My Nonprofit Reviews
Review for Alzheimer's Foundation of America, New York, NY, USA
I am glad to see that organizations such as this now exist. My only regret is that it had not yet been founded when my mother Frances was diagnosed with dementia in 2000, the year she died. The resources the Alzheimer's Foundation offers would have been invaluable in helping my mother's nursing home caregivers better understand what my mother was experiencing and would have made them more sympathetic.
Review for International Ocd Foundation Inc, Boston, MA, USA
My late father John suffered from obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and in my later years I did too. I wish I had been aware earlier of the International OCD Foundation, which tries to help by research and training and by fostering a supportive community for those affected by OCD and the professionals who treat them. Their website connects people to treatment providers and support groups and helps school personnel and parents identify and treat OCD in children. The Foundation is conservative in the number of appeals it sends out asking for donations.
Review for World Monuments Fund Inc, New York, NY, USA
World Monuments Fund doesn't just restore the world's architectural wonders, but also helps train new conservation professionals and craftspeople in the parts of the world it works in. This training of local people allows them to see the value of treasures they have in their own "backyard" as it were, and to be inspired to continue to preserve and maintain them. I only wish there was such an organization that would have benefited the neighborhood I grew up in (Old North St. Louis) in St. Louis, Missouri. It was filled with churches and homes from the mid and late 1800s that could hold their own with any in the USA. Unfortunately, well-intended but misguided "urban renewal" in the late 1960s and early 1970s resulted in the loss of many, many buildings, and by the time a local preservation group was formed, only small remnants of what had been a vibrant neighborhood could be saved. World Monuments Fund does on an international scale what the local St. Louis preservation group does on a local scale. World Monuments Fund has different levels of membership and doesn't inundate me with appeals.
Review for Heifer Project International, Inc., Little Rock, AR, USA
While my "three-star" rating remains the same for Heifer Project International, I am updating my comments as they relate to the number of appeals Heifer sends donors. Several months ago, I contacted them regarding the too-frequent appeals I was getting (as well as multiple copies in different sizes of their annual "gift" catalog). I asked them to only send me their "World Ark" magazine and a LIMITED number of appeals each year (and to eliminate sending me the "gift" catalogs entirely). They apparently misunderstood me and stopped sending me ALL of their solicitations. I was VERY CLEAR in telling them I wanted to continue to contribute (and HAVE continued to contribute) ONLY I did NOT want the volume of appeals I was receiving. It is disappointing that they could not seem to fulfill a rather simple and clear request (if it was a matter of computer limitations not allowing them to do so, they should have had the courtesy to explain to me that I would either have to receive ALL of their mailings or NONE at all).
Review for Project Orbis International Inc, New York, NY, USA
I am updating my previous review to now give Project Orbis International a "five-star" rating. The only reason I had previously given them less than that was that they previously seemed to stop acknowledging each individual donation made by postal mail. That must have been a temporary glitch in their system and not a policy change, as I have once again begun to receive "thank you" letters in response to each donation.
Review for Project Orbis International Inc, New York, NY, USA
I believe eyesight is the most precious of all of our senses, and have always marveled at how well so many of the blind adapt to this most devastating of disabilities. How much better it would be to prevent blindness from happening in the first place, or treat it in its earliest stages when it may be possible to restore sight!! That is what Orbis does throughout the world. What impresses me the most is that many of their "workers" are actually long-term volunteers (such as doctors) who, besides giving sight-saving surgery and treatment, train native medical personnel in developing countries to do the same, thus stretching their resources by enabling others to continue the good work without becoming dependent on continued assistance (which is the problem with some other charities).
While Orbis does not inundate contributors with requests (they send an informative newsletter called EYEWITNESS several times a year, as well as a few general appeals), the reason I do not give Orbis a "five-star" rating is that it seems they have changed their policy about acknowledging contributions made by postal mail. Instead of sending a "thank you" in response to each gift, they now apparently just send a year-end letter totaling the amount given during the year. This may cut their costs a bit, but at the "expense" of making a contributor maybe feel as though each gift does not "count" as much.
Review for World Wildlife Fund, Inc., Washington, DC, USA
I have been a long time contributor to WWF and believe they are the most globally effective environmental organization out there.
Their donor communications, however, could be better. For years I had been a "Partner In Conservation" based on giving several donations yearly that totaled $1,000 by the end of the year. One of the benefits of that status was that I did not receive general membership appeals, but only the much less frequent "Partner" appeals. Earlier this year, I began to receive general appeals and when I asked, I was told I no longer was a "Partner" because the criteria had been changed to eliminate those who did not contribute at least $1,000 in one gift (versus smaller amounts that added up to $1,000). Administratively, It was getting too difficult to track multiple donations to see if they added up to the minimum amount in the course of a year and it was also hard to establish a "cut-off" date by which a contributor would have had to make their last contribution to meet the $1,000 yearly minimum.
What is MOST disappointing, however, is that I did not receive notice of the change in "Partner" criteria, but was automatically converted to a general member without explanation (until I inquired myself). I am sure it cost WWF more to deal with my phone calls and emails regarding this matter than if they had sent a letter regarding this policy change before it became effective.
That said, I will continue contributing to WWF for the sake of their good conservation work.
Review for St. Joseph's Indian School, Chamberlain, SD, USA
Native Americans have suffered since the European "discovery" of North America. Treaties with them were broken, they were decimated by disease, and their original lands and way of life taken away from them. To survive, they were told they had to assimilate into the "American" (that is, white) way of doing things by forsaking their languages and traditions.
I have supported St. Joseph Indian School for many years because they not only teach Native American children (about two-thirds of them are from nine different tribes) the skills they need to succeed in modern society, but educate them in the traditional ways of their culture, as well as the near-extinct Lakota language. The school is also about more than education: it provides health care to the students, help for abused women, counseling for each student and his or her family, and during the summer a bookmobile that travels to the reservations and a day camp.
It costs St. Joseph's about 32 cents to raise $1. While this seems high, I attribute it to the fact that the continuing plight of Native Americans is just not on the average person's "radar." As a result, it is going to cost more to spread the word to as many as possible.
As to those who feel they receive too much mail from the school, my experience is that St. Joseph's is happy to modify individual mailing preferences. (For example, at my request, they stopped sending me address labels and other merchandise, and reduced my mailings to just their periodic newsletter called "Children of the Prairie.") They are quick to thank me for my donations and you can request that they not share your name with other groups.
We are truly grateful for the blessings you share with the Lakota children. Donors like you are so important to the work we do. Pilamaya – thank you – for your care and support of St. Joseph’s students!
Review for St Louis Society For The Blind, Saint Louis, MO, USA
I have been donating to the St. Louis Society For the Blind and Visually Impaired for some time now. They provide services to adults and children to help them adapt to their blindness or limited vision, regular social activities so that their clients do not feel isolated, and host a support group for the newly blind or impaired to help them deal with their feelings and emotions about their affliction. The Society receives no support from the United Way or government grants (although they are contracted by the state to provide certain services, they are not reimbursed the full value of what they do). They are very reasonable in the number of appeals they send out, consisting of a quarterly newsletter with an envelope to use to make a donation, and one or two separate additional solicitations each year. (The only disappointing thing about their donor relations is that they indicate that donors will be recognized in the newsletter, but they have not published any donor names in the last few issues I have received - and I know that they have received donations from at least ONE donor - me!)
Review for Accion International, Cambridge, MA, USA
I have given to Accion International for some years and do so because they are basically helping hard-working poor people to help themselves. It is amazing what those they help can do with such small loans! I also like that Accion does not overwhelm me with appeals - twice a year they mail their printed VENTURES newsletter with a return envelope to make a donation in, and send me just another one or two separate mail solicitations during the course of a year.
Review for Mary Mother Of God Mission Society, Modesto, CA, USA
After the Communist revolution in 1917 in Russia, Roman Catholic churches were confiscated and put to other uses by the government. In 1992 (a year after the Soviet Union ceased to exist), two priests from the United States arrived in Vladivostok to help re-establish the Church in eastern Russia. One of them (both still serve there) founded the Mary Mother of God Mission Society back in the U.S. and with its help, they have founded or re-founded 11 Catholic parishes, recruited seminarians, developed numerous charitable programs, and have created a variety of catechetical programs. The Society publishes a full-color bi-monthly newsletter called the "Vladivostok Sunrise" that they send to donors that highlights the work they do, such as food for orphans and homebound elderly Russians (and pairing up orphans with adults to provide the children with adult mentoring), medical assistance, AA programs for Russians with alcoholism , and providing alternatives to abortion. Other than including a reply envelope with each issue of the "Sunrise" newsletter, they rarely send separate appeals for funds. When I DO send a donation to their California office, (you can specify if you wish it used where most needed or for a specific program) , I eventually get an acknowledgment letter direct from Russia signed by the priest over there who founded the Society (so you know they got the contribution!). Most missionary organizations are focused on other parts of the world, so this is a chance to make a real difference in spreading the Good News to a country that is normally neglected!
Review for Heifer Project International, Inc., Little Rock, AR, USA
I have donated to Heifer for years because I like the idea that they do not give a "hand OUT," but instead a "hand UP" by providing people willing to work hard with the resources they need to be self-sustaining. Being a lifetime city dweller (in Saint Louis, Missouri), I cannot imagine how hard it is for small-scale farmers to make a decent living for their families, yet many seek out the extra work that the animals and training Heifer provides requires so that they can do even better! Once a family is helped, they learn to practice charity themselves by "Passing on the Gift" they've received from Heifer by giving another family one of their Heifer animal's offspring and help in training the new family. All that said, I DO feel that Heifer is too frequent with their appeals. I will receive a "thank you" letter for a gift and (besides asking for another gift at the bottom of that letter) often within a week will get ANOTHER solicitation. I enjoy getting their quarterly World Ark magazine, but they should fine tune their mailing list to only send the gift catalog to people who actually "order" animals from it.
Review for Seraphic Mass Association Inc, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
This is a Roman Catholic organization that supports the missionary work of the Capuchin Franciscan Friars throughout the world, providing for spiritual and physical needs of people in remote areas (such as Papua New Guinea). I first became aware of this religious order and their Seraphic Mass Association many years ago when they staffed a Catholic parish to which I belonged in Saint Louis, Missouri. (It seemed like either I followed them through Saint Louis or they followed me - over time, I belonged to four different churches or chapels in which they served!) I was always impressed by their devotion, their kindness and their dedication (two of them in particular served WELL PAST the time when "regular" diocesan priests would have retired). The Mass Association offers Novenas throughout the year (such as for Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, etc.) that donors can have their intentions and loved ones enrolled in. The Association also offers Mass cards for many occasions, with the Masses said by their missionaries throughout the world and the Mass donations used for their support. Their donor services staff are top-notch (you can have them tweak your mailing preferences virtually any way you want - for example, I asked to be sent only some of the Novena appeals - not all of them - and since my parents are deceased, I asked them to not send me enrollment cards for Mother's and Father's Day, but only the intention slip so I could have them remembered in the Novenas. They did so seamlessly.) I especially like that when you send in your intentions and donation, they send you a confirmation that lists those intentions so you know they are praying for the right people and things! They do not share your name with other organizations, so you do not have to worry about getting flooded with appeals from groups you may have no interest in.