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Foundation Truths

With all the news surrounding both presidential candidates’ foundations, I thought this would be a good opportunity to offer some information about how the Putnam City Foundation functions, and why you can feel good about supporting our foundation.

Some of the criticisms of the candidates’ foundations don’t apply to what happens in the Putnam City Schools Foundation- such as receiving donations from foreign entities with whom we might do business- but many of them do have parallels in all charitable foundations.

In one situation that has been criticized publically, a person on one candidate’s staff was empowered to cut checks from both a personal and a foundation account, according to the Washington Post. This is not possible in our foundation because no one on the staff nor the board of trustees has personal account information for anyone else. In addition, most foundations, including the Putnam City Schools Foundation, require two signatures from officially designated people in order for any check to be cut thereby increasing oversight that would catch this type of behavior.

In an accusation of conflict of interest, one candidate has been accused of offering access and possibly preferential treatment in exchange for donations. The parallel in our foundation would by our giving business to someone only after they have donated to us. Because we are a small firm, the amount of business we have to give is unlikely to be tempting enough to compel someone to donate in order to receive it, but the question could arise when considering the foundation’s proximity to those who make purchasing decisions for the district. A quick check of our audited financial records and the districts will show that a quid pro quo has not taken place. Public school districts have strict rules with which they must comply when they intend to spend public funds. These are all available for anyone to see, as are the PCS Foundation’s audits on www.givesmartokc.org.

Finally, one candidate’s charity has been accused of disbursing funds from the charity for political purposes. This is a violation of tax law for any charity designated as a 501©3, as the Putnam City Schools Foundation is. From a review of our audited 990s and other tax records, it will become evident that no such kind of situation exists for us. These are also available on our website at ww.pcf4kids.org. Our financials are reviewed both by staff and trustees regularly so there is no semblance of impropriety.

Something I hold up as a standard to follow for non-profit ethics is the Donor Bill of Rights. The Association of Fundraising Professionals and other non-profit trade groups developed this list, which you can read https://www.aps.org/about/support/upload/bill-rights.pdf here.

A few of my favorites are:

IV. The donor has the right to be assured their gifts will be used for the purposes for which they were given.

X. The donor has the right to feel free to ask questions when making a donation and to receive prompt, truthful, and forthright answers.

Integrity forms the basis of all the decisions made on behalf of the Putnam City Schools Foundation, and I want to ensure our donors and potential donors know how seriously we take it. When you hear something about a fundraiser or foundation that doesn’t sound right, please ask us how we handle things here. The work we are doing on behalf of children and families in Putnam City will not be put at risk due to loose interpretations of any rules. It’s just too important.

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