Response to WW Article
Although p:ear welcomes Willamette Week’s scrutiny of non-profit management (see “Flabby Charities,” by James Pitkin December 22, 2010), this article fails to offer accurate insight and context into the specifics of p:ear’s 2008 fiscal year.
In 2008, p:ear closed for several months in preparation for moving into a new building. During the move, there were no programs and therefore, no program costs. This decrease in programming costs – lower than in years past and present – is reflected in the 2008 990 form.
As many of you already know, p:ear operates on remarkably lean budget and staff.
Furthermore, the article fails to account for p:ear’s cultural capital and unique structure for working with homeless youth. Specifically:
1) All p:ear staff are teachers foremost, not administrators. The staff of p:ear spend at least 50% of their time on “the floor,” mentoring, teaching, and working with youth. Due to this, many of the administrative costs of running p:ear transfer to programming.
2) A large number of volunteers supplement staff and teach classes for no cost, which is not reflected in the 990 document. The music, photography and job-training barista school – all core programs – are all run on volunteer hours. During the 2008 fiscal year, 65 volunteers provided over 2,400 hours. p:ear mentors/administrators work to cultivate and support community partners. This is a core asset not reflected in the fiscal calculus used to develop the cost/pass ratio by the Attorney General.
3) Additionally many local businesses and individuals make in-kind donations of food, clothing, equipment, art supplies, etc. to p:ear which fill many of the program needs. These in-kind donations decrease our programs costs by a significant percent.
We invite James Pitkin to review and compare our 2009 financials.