We are currently updating our review of Nurse-Family Partnership National Service Office (NFP NSO) (one of our top-rated charities). We did our main review of NFP NSO in 2008 and since then we have continued to develop our research process, and in particular our approach to assessing room for more funding, i.e., how much more money a charity can productively use. At this point we feel that NFP NSO has room for more funding only over the long term, and that potential donors should take this into account.
This conclusion is not final, but it seems like an observation worth sharing now. We plan to publish our updated review of NFP NSO, including our final take on its need for individuals’ donations, later this year.
Details: In 2007, NFP NSO launched a campaign to raise money so that NFP NSO could become, over a ten-year period, self-sustaining on the fees it collects from local NFP programs. In 2007, NFP NSO successfully got commitments of approximately $50 million for this purpose, the full amount it sought (see Annual Report 2007 (PDF), page 31, and our phone conversation with NFP NSO (DOC)).
Since then, NFP NSO has revised its cash flow projections, making the projections less optimistic in light of the weak economy. It has shared these cash flow projections for our eyes only. The projections anticipate that donations will be needed for several years to cover the gap between earned revenues (from local NFP programs) and expenses, and that it will take until 2021 to get to the point where earned revenues cover 98% of all expenses.
From these projections, it appears to us that existing commitments can sustain NFP NSO through 2015, at which point the organization will likely need more donations in order to continue operating. It also seems likely to us that any additional donations in the meantime will be essentially “held for a rainy day,” i.e., saved for the point at which they are needed to cover this gap. Because NFP NSO’s goal is to become self-sustaining on earned revenue, it seems unlikely that it would use more donations to directly increase the reach of its program (e.g., through providing its services to local NFP offices for free or reduced prices).
We feel that NFP NSO is an outstanding organization, with a stronger case for its effectiveness than any other organization we know of doing work on U.S. equality of opportunity. Therefore, we very much hope that it raises the funds that are necessary to continue operating, and in plenty of time. However, it seems important to note that its need for more funds – and ability to translate them into more outcomes – is fairly far off, when compared to that of (for example) VillageReach. (Note that we don’t mean to compare NFP NSO to VillageReach in terms of outcomes, or in general. We’re simply contrasting longer-term vs. shorter-term room for more funding.)
Note: NFP NSO reviewed and approved this post prior to publication.