Following the money: Sioux Falls Non-profits reviewed

Published: Oct. 7, 2021 at 11:23 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) -Supporting a charity can take a bit of research. Kevin Scally makes that job easier with the website Charity Navigator.

“Make sure that the organization is staying on mission, and being fiscally responsible,” said Scally.

There is a threshold that most charities set as a goal for internal expenses and salaries, versus the money that goes to help the cause.

“And the percentage that you’re typically looking for is 70% of your dollar going towards programs, or more,” said Scally.

Angie Hillestad of the Sioux Empire United Way has statistics showing how the non-profit exceeds the goal.

“Over 90% of all the funds that are given go directly out to the, to the agencies. The United Way administrative portion is so small,” said Hillestad.

Over 60 people volunteer to go through 80 programs they support, to review how the money is spent.

“We’re looking at audited financial statements internal financial statements, spending a lot of time looking at the cost structure of the organization as well as what other sources of revenue they might generate,” said Hillestad.

We looked at several non-profits in the area.

Lifelight also subscribes to the Evangelical Council for financial accountability to reassure their donors. While the ministry raises about 1 million dollars annually, CEO Josh Brewer makes around $77,000.

“It’s almost like getting an audit done every year but it is so important because they go through all of our finances to make sure that every penny is tracked every penny is going towards exactly what it’s supposed to be going towards,” said Brewer.

Founder Alan Greene’s salary is under $18,000 plus a housing allowance.

“We don’t none of us are in big-time wages here,” said Greene.

Ensuring how the money is spent is important, as well as the type of work they do. Donors to Lifelight tell Greene they appreciate the partnership in the work Lifelight does.

“We provide the stage for them to be involved in ministry. And so it should be. It should be something that’s a cause that’s close to your heart,” said Greene.

Another non-profit Giving Hope, which operates bingo fundraising in Sioux Falls, gives back an average of $115,000 per year, but their director’s salary nearly matches that amount at just under $90,000. We asked for more information from two of the board members who referred our I-Team to the director, who responded there was no comment.

Some of the larger non-profits that bring in directors to manage their charities, especially in the millions of dollars annually, need to attract the best talent.

“So it does come with compensation and you want to make sure that it is competitive so that way that they can actually help more people help more animals and save the environment, whatever their quality is you want to make sure that they are the best at being able to do that to make the largest difference,” said Scally.

Another website that you can use to research non-profits is developed by the Better Business Bureau,

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