WHY I GIVE: SETTING THE BAR FOR EXCELLENCE

Published by Kristen French on Feb 10, 2018

It seems like non-profits have been asking me to donate for as long as I can remember. Whether I was stopped by a stranger asking for spare change outside of a convenient store, someone was trying to sell me cookies or I participated in a food drive, the request for donations was constant – even as a young adult. Now that I’m older, the requests for donations are more frequent and more personal and more of a financial commitment. In my early years, I donated from my heart – focusing on organizations that were serving a population that I cared about or supporting a cause that was personally impacting me. But today, my reasons for giving are more comprehensive. While I can’t help but be drawn to an organization that appeals to my heart, I am disciplined about only giving to organizations that are financially sound and transparent, good stewards of their resources and engage in best governance and accounting practices.

I spent over six years as an auditor and the last seven years as a consultant, working with many non-profits in Arizona, which uncovered the challenges within the non-profit community. Non-profits can experience financial challenges, just like a for-profit business. In fact, many non-profits are more exposed to economic fluctuation. Oftentimes, the need for services increase during economic down turns, while the funding sources and donations decrease. Strategic planning, financial stewardship and governance is critical to plan and protect non-profit resources. Oftentimes, non-profits have limited resources and talent to support sophisticated or robust systems that will be needed to support a growing organization. Through my career, I’ve been exposed to the inter-workings of many non-profits in Arizona, which include meeting governing boards and staff, understanding accounting practices and reviewing accounting records.

I’m fortunate to have these experiences that give me the insight to be an informed donor. However, with this knowledge comes the responsibility to only support organizations that appeal to both my heart and my head. I was introduced to Feeding Matters and Chris Linn in 2013. Shortly thereafter, I was engaged to provide accounting consulting for Feeding Matters and spent the next few years assisting in various capacities on a project basis. I’ve seen the accounting records, interfaced with most of the staff, participated in finance and audit committee meetings, attended the luncheons and listened.

Feeding Matters is setting the bar for excellence. In the accounting industry, we often evaluate the ethical climate through the ‘tone at the top’ – a term that defines management leadership and commitment towards honesty, integrity and ethical behavior. A good tone at the top permeates an entire organization and is considered a prerequisite for solid governance. I’ve known Chris Linn, Feeding Matters’ president and CEO, for over 4 years and I’m continually impressed with her passion toward the mission, while maintaining high business acumen in her execution. Chris has the experience and qualifications to effectively lead Feeding Matters, but her commitment to the cause makes her trustworthy, effective and dynamic.

Feeding Matters became personally relevant to our family in early 2014. My (then, almost 2 year old) son had a life-threatening allergic reaction, which will forever change the way our family experiences food. My son received the proper care, recovered quickly from the reaction and our family was able to find resources and be educated about allergies. Feeding Matters provided resources and Chris Linn offered personal support and guidance. Once we settled into our routine as an allergy friendly family, I realized how fortunate we were in our journey; many families don’t have answers or a diagnosis or a plan. Many families struggle daily with feeding and nourishing their children. The overwhelming impact that pediatric feeding disorder can impose on a family is heartbreaking. I am so grateful to be able to support Feeding Matters and their efforts towards identification, research and promotion of collaborative care.

As a mother of 3 (very soon to be 4) young children and a business owner, the requests for donations are endless and the options are vast. My husband and I choose to support Feeding Matters each year because they are accountable, financially sustainable, transparent, ethical, passionate and effective - we continue to be impressed and inspired by the progress Feeding Matters makes each year.