buildOn Achieves 4 Stars from Charity Navigator for 8th Year

We are incredibly honored to be a part of the one percent of charities rated on Charity Navigator that have received a prestigious four star rating for the eighth year in a row. Our nonprofit received this high ranking from the industry’s authority in rating nonprofits’ financial health for “sound fiscal management and commitment to accountability and transparency,” according to a letter we received from Ken Berger, Charity Navigator’s President and Chief Executive Officer. In a nutshell, this rating indicates that we outperform most charities in the United States.

buildOn is able to keep administrative costs low due to donated goods and services. We budget for an extremely low administration rate; we try to keep overhead between three to five percent. That’s savvy considering several nonprofits run a eight to 17 percent overhead rate.  Last year we received 1.3 million dollars of in-kind support. That includes our legal counsel from law firm Edwards Angell Palmer & Dodge LLP, and donated tickets to Malawi from British Airways for our students who go on their on “trek” to build schools. All of our regions, excluding New York, are housed in GE facilities; so we have the advantage of saving on rent, printing, phones and IT support. Our New York staff works out of office space provided by the schools where they work.

Charity Navigator looks at many factors when it grade charities annually. The criteria it evaluates us on are based on our Internal Revenue Service 990 tax return; they evaluate if we’re fiscally responsible. We owe a lot of our transparency to the culture of our workforce, according to  Suzanne Forbes, buildOn’s Vice President of Finance. “I look, and Jim (Ziolkowski, buildOn’s President and CEO) looks, at every dollar that’s spent to see if it’s spent wisely,” Forbes said.

Rosann Jager, buildOn’s Director of Trek Programs, said her team in financially disciplined when taking students abroad to build schools. They look for the best rates for flights and budget wisely. “For an entire week we spent between $1000 to $1200 on food, transportation and lodging for a team of 18 people, and that’s including a few nice dinners.” What makes buildOn unique from other immersion trips offered to youth is the students stay with host families, not in hotels.

Forbes credits Ziolkowski’s financial acumen to his time working at GE Capital’s Financial Management Program before founding buildOn. Our financials are presented to our board every quarter. In addition, Forbes, Ziolkowski and Marc Friedman, buildOn’s Chief Operating Officer, put together a financial dashboard with a revenue forecast and cash flow that gets reviewed by our board’s head of the finance committee every month. “There is tremendous transparency,” she said.

If you are a donor to buildOn and have worked with us, visit our profile on Charity Navigator and write a review about us today to inform other donors about how we do business.