Why are certain figures and ratios shown on the IRS Form 990 or by various charity watchdog sites different than what is reported in your annual report?
Financial information presented in our annual report is based on financial statements that have been audited by a third-party accounting firm. Due to differences in financial reporting versus tax reporting rules, figures may differ between the annual report and Form 990. The IRS does not recognize revenue and expense from in-kind services and use of facilities. As such, this information is not reported in the 990, but is included in our annual report.
Make-A-Wish Illinois receives a significant amount of in-kind support for wish granting purposes including airline miles, hotel accommodations, and ground transportation services. Such donations of services help us to lower our average cash expense per wish, allowing the the chapter to grant more wishes to children. For this reason, our program expense ratio is typically lower on the 990 than in our audited financials. Inclusion of these items presents the most accurate picture of Make-A-Wish Illinois performance, as these gifts are considered a critical element of our operating effectiveness.
How do charity watchdog organizations rate charities?
Each group uses different criteria, but generally they rely on information gleaned from public records such as the 990. Information is used and analyzed according to the criteria set by each different organization doing the rating. We have no control over charity watchdog sites and the frequency in which they obtain and utilize the information that is available. For the criteria of a specific charity rating service, you should contact that service directlly.
Why is the 990 posted on your website and available through other websites from a couple of years ago?
The information we post on our website is the most current available. Our fiscal year ends in August, and tax forms reflect the year that a fiscal year begins. As such, it may appear that our information is older than it really is. For example, a "2010" tax form reflects our fiscal year 2010 (09/01/09 to 08/31/10). The most recent information is always posted on our webpage, www.illinois.wish.org.