Nonprofits have the difficult job of being strong stewards of their donors’ support and ensuring a positive impact on the clients they serve and the mission we are here to support. No Barriers is not in a position to comment specifically about other organizations that serve veterans with disabilities, their policies, program or spending habits. What we can do is speak from our perspective on how we approach our work for these veterans, along with the students and others who seek to live a life of purpose through No Barriers USA. And we will keep our promise to you that we are, and will continue to be, good stewards of your dollars and your faith in our work.
Our mission focuses first and foremost on creating life-changing experiences and having deep impact through our work. Several stories in the media of late question the value of sending veterans to activities like a ball game, as an example of a way to boost numbers but not really impacting lives. This is not the work we do.
At No Barriers, we are committed to significant impact and we have a growing suite of tools for how we measure that impact. As a result of our most recent board retreat, we have started using a Meaningful Engagement Scale developed by Accenture which forces us to have honest conversations about what it means to meaningfully impact participants. We use external evaluators, currently from Brigham Young University, to assess the short-, mid- and long-term impact of our programs on participants. 2016 is the first year we are adding the mid- and long-term studies. Previously, we had only conducted research immediately after a program. And as our program teams like to say, “If at the end of the day all you learned was how to climb a mountain, or travel abroad, we didn’t do our job. We are here to change lives.”
We do believe in the ripple effect: the idea that the impact of our program extends beyond the immediate people we serve. In many cases, it impacts their families and their communities. The stories that we share impact millions of others, but we strive to be honest in how we talk about our impact. We’re always exploring tools for how we measure that ripple effect. When you give to No Barriers you can be confident that your donation changes the lives of those we are here to serve.
We are also very careful about our expenditures across all that we do. We always look for the most competitive rates available, whether that be with salary comparisons within the industry or when purchasing office space, equipment, tools or supplies. The quality of our people and our tools directly affects our work in a positive way. We work hard to walk a clear line of being both responsible and accountable with how we allocate our resources. Our overhead rate has varied from 11-15% over the past three years of operations. We are projecting 15% overhead in the current fiscal year. The debate about nonprofit overhead is fertile and is by no means a black and white conversation. I personally filter this through the lens of how we are best able to significantly impact the lives of our participants. In some years, we may invest in resources that will increase our overhead, but only as we determine that an investment is needed to ensure quality, reach and impact. We will always come back to the core question of how our investments are best enabling us to impact the lives of the people we serve.
Your support is pivotal to our success. In turn we will keep our promise to you that we are responsible stewards of your generosity and remain focused on our mission to unleash the potential of the human spirit by creating life-changing experiences for the people we are here to serve
To learn more about our financial management and commitment to the mission, please download our annual Gratitude Report or call me with your questions.
No Barriers USA