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Friends of Great Smoky Mountain National Park Inc

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Animals, Environment, Natural Resources Conservation & Protection, Sports, Wildlife Preservation & Protection

Mission: Friends of Great Smoky Mountains National Park helps to preserve and protect one of America's greatest natural treasures by raising funds and awareness and providing volunteers for needed projects.

Results: Since 1993, Friends of the Smokies has raised more than $47 million to help fund important projects in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Target demographics: Everyone who loves, lives near, visits, and takes cherished memories away from the Smoky Mountains.

Direct beneficiaries per year: The natural and cultural resources in Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

Geographic areas served: Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Programs: Parks as Classrooms, which helps educate 18,000 students annually through hands-on curriculum-based education in the park, Trails Forever, which funds a full-time trail crew to preserve the park's 800+ miles of trails for generations to come, and historic preservation efforts to protect the rich history of east Tennessee and western North Carolina.

Community Stories

1 Story from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

1 Peggy W.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 5

The financial figures for Friends of the Smokies for Fiscal Year 2008 do not reflect $916,924 raised in 2008 for three internally-managed endowments that will all benefit the Smokies’ 800+ miles of recreational trails. This data on internally managed endowments is not currently included in the Charity Navigator ranking system.

Visitors to Charity Navigator should keep this information in mind when looking at this data and determining the true level effectiveness of the organization and its total impact on park resources and visitors.

Additionally, the information below can help provide additional perspective on Friends’ most recent financial reports.

In 2010, the organization added more than $1.218 million to the internally managed Trails Forever endowment, but based on current accounting standards, those funds do not show up as an official park support expense, even though those funds are clearly restricted for improvements to park trails (as shown on page 13 of the 2010 audit).

At the park’s request, Friends of the Smokies also spent more than $782,000 in 2010 to buy a 20-acre inholding (as summarized on page 12 of the 2010 audit). That purchase will not show up as an official park support expense until the land is transferred to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, a process that takes several months to finish, probably sometime in 2011.

The two above-mentioned efforts total more than $2 million in 2010, which paints a very different picture of how Friends really supports Great Smoky Mountains National Park.