My Nonprofit Reviews

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mireio

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6 reviews

Review for United Charitable, Tysons, VA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

United Charitable makes it so easy for me to operate under their fiscal sponsorship and help those in need. During this period, when COVID has especially affected poor communities worldwide it allows us to insure the children in our projects received the nourishment they needed.

Role:  Client Served
 

Review for United Charitable, Tysons, VA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

This is hundreds of charities rolled into one! United Charitable sets me free to attend to my humanitarian projects while they handle for a small fee administrative details that would be unaffordable to a small budget operation like mine was I to form my own non profit. They provide support in accounting, legal advice, fundraising training and all that one needs to function and grow.

Role:  Client Served
 

Review for Mayan Families, Slatersville, RI, USA

Rating: 1 stars  

Please note that all positive reviews and awards date to prior to 2018.
Negative reports only after that date.
There is a reason for this: It is basically no longer the same charity. Let me explain all I found out as it is quite important.

Mayan Families USA was founded by an Australian woman living in Panajachel
It was created to allow USA donors to get a tax receipt when supporting the other foundation she registered in Guatemala: FundaMaya. All work in Guatemala was performed by FundaMaya and its indigenous staff. Donors to Mayan Families who visited the Guatemala charity and the children they sponsored were in fact visiting FundaMaya. The latter received funds from Mayan Families only for approved projects and upon presentation of receipts and documentation. Its administrative costs retained were 20%. I do not know what percentage Mayan Families USA was retaining on the money they received nor what was the salaries they paid their staff because no financial statements are on their page and the last tax return available to donors is 2015

At the end of 2017 Sharon was diagnosed with Cancer and had to return for treatment to Australia. A new board of directors at Mayan Famiies sent from the USA a director to take her place. Basically, Mayan Families, took over the running and finances of FundaMaya as of that date. This led to changes that created much discord and hurt feelings among the indigenous staff who saw its role diminished as MF wanted to run things in an entirely different manner than that established by Sharon Smart and had resulted in turning a project she started out of her own home, with her own funds, into one with a 3 million dollars a year in donations.

As an expatriate in Guatemala and the founder of another charity working in that country, I have nothing but admiration for the work done by FundaMaya. I have seen the significant positive difference it has made to the lives of indigenous communities around the lake of Atitlan. Sharon’s projects grew from school sponsorship for children, to the creation of several pre-schools, feeding programs for the elderly, building and repairing homes, vented stoves to prevent repiratory diseases, sewing and carpentry courses, a medical clinic and even animal protection. Her fundraising success was based on an intensive effort creating an ongoing relationship between donors and recipient via photos, letters and invitation to visit that always turned into a memorable experience. All donations were documented with photos of food baskets and school supplies delivered to smiling recipients.

In September of 2018, the Guatemala board of directors of FundaMaya decided that the changes imposed by Mayan Families were incompatible with their philiosophy and the fundamental role it gave its indigenous staff as well as the very respectful way it related to the indigenous communities and its leaders. Sharon Smart announced that FundaMaya would part from Mayan Families but would continue its work and receive its donations through a different partner: ACTION ALLIANCE INTERNATIONAL . She wished Mayan Families good luck on public media.

Mayan Families was not as civilised about the parting. FundaMaya was falsely accused of many things. There was a lot of misinformation and unsubstantiated accusations thrown around and sent to donors and when those accusations were proven to have been erroneous, there was not the integrity to publicly admit this to the donors and clear the names of the accused. Entirely false accusations based on superficial misinformation was made against the indigenous staff claiming it had accumulated unusual wealth resulted in their safety being at risk, but even when that was explained to the Mayan Family director in Panajachel and their accusasions proven invalid, no apology resulted.

Basically, Mayan Families would like the donors to think that they are running the same charity their donations have been supporting in the past but with new and better management. That is not true. FundaMaya has moved on and is no longer their partner. Mayan Families has established on the former home of FundaMaya its own still unregistered charity called Mayan Families. As a result of the parting, Mayan Families kept some of FundaMaya’s project to justify retaining all reserve funds destined to FundaMaya they would not part with. That is why some sponsors still fall under their umbrella and are complaining on this site. MF has been banned from the 2 community pre-schools they adopted as the community leaders to not like the way they want to run things. They do not want foreigners reigning over them. They are angry for having to be associated with MF instead of FundaMaya .

FundaMaya and its Guatemalan staff and directors opened their new headquarters in December and continue to operate its same projects with a philosophy that is different from that of its former partner. They believe that the indigenous should shape the policies and practices of the organization. they believe in focusing on the individual and the families. they know the sponsored students and their families personally, Sharon and her family attend every wedding, funeral and special events of the communities they support. The indigenous community considers FundaMaya as its own indigenous project. They like dealing with the indigenous staff rather overpaid expatriate staff at Mayan Families.

The unheard excessiveness of the salary ($60,000) paid by Mayan Families to its director resulted in my complaining about it on the facebook page and comparing it to the $22,000 paid Sharon. All who complained and found, like me, such posting removed and received a message advising them they were banned from the site. Mayan Families is presently staffed by a lot of expatriates paid high salaries and working illegally in Guatemala as none has work permits, including the director.

Like the many who now know that FundaMaya was the real worker behind Mayan Families, I have chosen to continue to support them.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I would would return the projects created by Funda Maya to Funda Maya . Start work , as Sharon did, from scratch elsewhere in Guatemala where the need is great and no other charity is present.

Role:  Donor
 

Review for Miracles In Action Inc, Naples, FL, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

A small foundation having a high impact on education, health and the advacement of women in poor indigenous Guatemalan communities.

Role:  Volunteer
 

Review for United Charitable, Tysons, VA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

I long resisted starting my own project because of all that is involved in starting a Not for profit organization and the cost of administration that would require accountant and legal services. All disproportionate in cost and time to the size of our budget and the time available.

United Charitable allowed me to finally create Global Legacy Programs and concentrate on projects while they shoulder all administrative duties for a small fee. I depend on them for accounting, legal counseling, and a staff always ready to offer support. It is a wonderful solution for all of us who want to do good on a small scale.

UC also makes avaiable courses in fundraising, grant proposal writing and other subjects that have helped me learn what I needed to make my GLP thrive.

Role:  Client Served
 

Review for United Charitable, Tysons, VA, USA

Rating: 5 stars  

After retiring, I worked as a volunteer for two humanitarian foundations. This helped me decide where I wanted to make a difference and how. I wanted to have my own project and United Charitable Programs helped me make the transition. I wanted to be able to select projects and apply to them the funds I raised. I however lacked the administrative know how and hiring a support team was beyond my possibilities.

UCP took these concerns off my shoulders; all the administrative, legal, and accounting details being handled by them for a minute fee they retain out of deposited donations. This has freed me to concentrate on projects while keeping operating costs at a minimum. Additionally, they offer frequent on line free classes on many subjects I needed to learn more about, such as fundraising, planning events, doing marketing campaigns, etc.

The only way it would make sense to leave UCP is if we grow to the point where our donations amount into a very very large sum and the percentage retained by UCP ends up exceeding the normal cost of hiring a staff....but that is still a long time away!!!! and UCP is a wonderful parent and guide to my Global Legacy Programs as well as many other chapters of UCP who are doing good all over the world and could not exist without UCP's support. I share with them the credit for each of our humanitarian project achieved.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

none

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2015

Role:  Volunteer