Charity Review

  • Issued: May 2013
  • Expires: May 2015

Room to Read

Standards Not Met

  • 1
  • 4
  • 6

415-561-3331

111 Sutter Street, 16th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104

http://www.roomtoread.org

415-561-3331

111 Sutter Street, 16th Floor
San Francisco, CA 94104

http://www.roomtoread.org

Standards Not Met

This organization does not meet one or more of the 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Click the conclusions section below for more information.

Standards For Charity Accountability

Governance

  1. Board Oversight

    Oversight of Operations and Staff: Standard 1

    Description
    Organizations shall have a board of directors that provides adequate oversight of the charity's operations and its staff. Indication of adequate oversight includes, but is not limited to, regularly scheduled appraisals of the CEO's performance, evidence of disbursement controls such as board approval of the budget, fund raising practices, establishment of a conflict of interest policy, and establishment of accounting procedures sufficient to safeguard charity finances.

    RTR does not meet this Standard because its board of directors does not:

    • Have a voting member of the board who is assigned the responsibility of serving as the treasurer. In general, the board’s treasurer helps provide independent oversight of the organization’s finances.

  2. Board Size

    Number of Board Members: Standard 2

    Description
    Soliciting organizations shall have a board of directors with a minimum of five voting members.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Board Meetings

    Frequency and Attendance of Board Meetings: Standard 3

    Description
    An organization shall have a minimum of three evenly spaced meetings per year of the full governing body with a majority in attendance, with face-to-face participation. A conference call of the full board can substitute for one of the three meetings of the governing body. For all meetings, alternative modes of participation are acceptable for those with physical disabilities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Board Compensation

    Compensated Board Members: Standard 4

    Description
    Not more than one or 10% (whichever is greater) directly or indirectly compensated person(s) serving as voting member(s) of the board. Compensated members shall not serve as the board's chair or treasurer.

    RTR does not meet this Standard because:

    • The chair of the board is compensated directly as paid staff.

  5. Conflict of Interest

    Conflict of Interest: Standard 5

    Description
    No transaction(s) in which any board or staff members have material conflicting interests with the charity resulting from any relationship or business affiliation. Factors that will be considered when concluding whether or not a related party transaction constitutes a conflict of interest and if such a conflict is material, include, but are not limited to: any arm's length procedures established by the charity; the size of the transaction relative to like expenses of the charity; whether the interested party participated in the board vote on the transaction; if competitive bids were sought and whether the transaction is one-time, recurring or ongoing.

    The organization meets this standard.

Measuring Effectiveness

  1. Effectiveness Policy

    Board Policy on Effectiveness: Standard 6

    Description
    Have a board policy of assessing, no less than every two years, the organization's performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

    RTR does not meet this Standard because:

    • The board of directors does not have a written policy stating that, at least every two years, an appraisal be done assessing the organization’s performance and effectiveness and determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

  2. Effectiveness Report

    Board Approval of Written Report on Effectiveness: Standard 7

    Description
    Submit to the organization's governing body, for its approval, a written report that outlines the results of the aforementioned performance and effectiveness assessment and recommendations for future actions.

    The organization meets this standard.

Finances

  1. Program Expenses

    Program Service Expense Ratio: Standard 8

    Description
    Spend at least 65% of its total expenses on program activities.

    The organization meets this standard.

  2. Fund Raising Expenses

    Fund Raising Expense Ratio: Standard 9

    Description
    Spending should be no more than 35% of related contributions on fund raising. Related contributions include donations, legacies, and other gifts received as a result of fund raising efforts.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Accumulating Funds

    Ending Net Assets: Standard 10

    Description
    Avoid accumulating funds that could be used for current program activities. To meet this standard, the charity's unrestricted net assets available for use should not be more than three times the size of the past year's expenses or three times the size of the current year's budget, whichever is higher.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Audit Report

    Financial Statements: Standard 11

    Description
    Make available to all, on request, complete annual financial statements prepared in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles. When total annual gross income exceeds $500,000, these statements should be audited in accordance with generally accepted auditing standards. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $500,000, a review by a certified public accountant is sufficient to meet this standard. For charities whose annual gross income is less than $250,000, an internally produced, complete financial statement is sufficient to meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Detailed Expense Breakdown

    Detailed Functional Breakdown of Expenses: Standard 12

    Description
    Include in the financial statements a breakdown of expenses (e.g., salaries, travel, postage, etc.) that shows what portion of these expenses was allocated to program, fund raising, and administrative activities. If the charity has more than one major program category, the schedule should provide a breakdown for each category.

    The organization meets this standard.

  6. Accurate Expense Reporting

    Accuracy of Expenses in Financial Statements: Standard 13

    Description
    Accurately report the charity's expenses, including any joint cost allocations, in its financial statements. For example, audited or unaudited statements which inaccurately claim zero fund raising expenses or otherwise understate the amount a charity spends on fund raising, and/or overstate the amount it spends on programs will not meet this standard.

    The organization meets this standard.

  7. Budget Plan

    Budget: Standard 14

    Description
    Have a board-approved annual budget for its current fiscal year, outlining projected expenses for major program activities, fund raising, and administration.

    The BBB is unable to verify if this organization meets this standard.

Fund Raising & Info

  1. Truthful Materials

    Misleading Appeals: Standard 15

    Description
    Have solicitations and informational materials, distributed by any means, that are accurate, truthful and not misleading, both in whole and in part. Appeals that omit a clear description of program(s) for which contributions are sought will not meet this standard. A charity should also be able to substantiate that the timing and nature of its expenditures are in accordance with what is stated, expressed, or implied in the charity's solicitations.

    The BBB is unable to verify if this organization meets this standard.

  2. Annual Report

    Annual Report: Standard 16

    Description
    Have an annual report available to all, on request, that includes: (a) the organization's mission statement, (b) a summary of the past year's program service accomplishments, (c) a roster of the officers and members of the board of directors, (d) financial information that includes (i) total income in the past fiscal year, (ii) expenses in the same program, fund raising and administrative categories as in the financial statements, and (iii) ending net assets.

    The organization meets this standard.

  3. Website Disclosures

    Web Site Disclosures: Standard 17

    Description
    Include on any charity websites that solicit contributions, the same information that is recommended for annual reports, as well as the mailing address of the charity and electronic access to its most recent IRS Form 990.

    The organization meets this standard.

  4. Donor Privacy

    Privacy for Written Appeals & Internet Privacy: Standard 18

    Description
    Address privacy concerns of donors by (a) providing in written appeals, at least annually, a means (e.g., such as a check off box) for both new and continuing donors to inform the charity if they do not want their name and address shared outside the organization, (b) providing a clear, prominent and easily accessible privacy policy on any of its websites that tells visitors (i) what information, if any, is being collected about them by the charity and how this information will be used, (ii) how to contact the charity to review personal information collected and request corrections, (iii) how to inform the charity (e.g., a check off box) that the visitor does not wish his/her personal information to be shared outside the organization, and (iv) what security measures the charity has in place to protect personal information.

    The organization meets this standard.

  5. Cause Marketing Disclosures

    Cause Related Marketing: Standard 19

    Description
    Clearly disclose how the charity benefits from the sale of products or services (i.e., cause-related marketing) that state or imply that a charity will benefit from a consumer sale or transaction. Such promotions should disclose, at the point of solicitation: (a) the actual or anticipated portion of the purchase price that will benefit the charity (e.g., 5 cents will be contributed to abc charity for every xyz company product sold), (b) the duration of the campaign (e.g., the month of October), (c) any maximum or guaranteed minimum contribution amount (e.g., up to a maximum of $200,000).

    The BBB is unable to verify if this organization meets this standard.

  6. Complaints

    Complaints: Standard 20

    Description
    Respond promptly to and act on complaints brought to its attention by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and/or local Better Business Bureaus about fund raising practices, privacy policy violations and/or other issues.

    The organization meets this standard.

Conclusion

Room to Read does not meet the following 3 Standards for Charity Accountability:

Standard 1 - Oversight of Operations and Staff
Organizations shall have a board of directors that provides adequate oversight of the charity's operations and its staff. Indication of adequate oversight includes, but is not limited to, regularly scheduled appraisals of the CEO's performance, evidence of disbursement controls such as board approval of the budget, fund raising practices, establishment of a conflict of interest policy, and establishment of accounting procedures sufficient to safeguard charity finances.

RTR does not meet this Standard because its board of directors does not:

  • Have a voting member of the board who is assigned the responsibility of serving as the treasurer. In general, the board’s treasurer helps provide independent oversight of the organization’s finances.

Standard 4 - Compensated Board Members
Not more than one or 10% (whichever is greater) directly or indirectly compensated person(s) serving as voting member(s) of the board. Compensated members shall not serve as the board's chair or treasurer.

RTR does not meet this Standard because:

  • The chair of the board is compensated directly as paid staff.

Standard 6 - Board Policy on Effectiveness
Have a board policy of assessing, no less than every two years, the organization's performance and effectiveness and of determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

RTR does not meet this Standard because:

  • The board of directors does not have a written policy stating that, at least every two years, an appraisal be done assessing the organization’s performance and effectiveness and determining future actions required to achieve its mission.

In addition, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance requested but did not receive complete information on the organization’s finances, solicitation materials, and fundraising disclosures and is unable to verify the organization's compliance with the following 3 Standards for Charity Accountability: 14, 15, and 19.

Room to Read meets the remaining 14 Standards for Charity Accountability.

Purpose

  • Year, State Incorporated

    1999, Washington

  • Affiliates

    Asia Regional Office
    Room to Read Australia
    Room to Read Australia Foundation
    Room to Read Bangladesh
    Room to Read Cambodia
    Room to Read Canada
    Room to Read Hong Kong
    Room to Read India Private Company Limited
    Room to Read India Trust
    Room to Read Japan
    Room to Read Laos
    Room to Read Nepal
    Room to Read Nepal (Program)
    Room to Read New Zealand
    Room to Read Singapore
    Room to Read South Africa
    Room to Read Sri Lanka
    Room to Read Switzerland
    Room to Read Tanzania
    Room to Read United Kingdom
    Room to Read Vietnam
    Room to Read Zambia

  • Stated Purpose

    “ to transform the lives of children in developing countries by focusing on literacy and gender equality in education.”

Programs

RR operates programs focused on literacy and gender equality in education, school libraries, book publishing, school construction, and reading and writing instruction. The organization operates programs in countries in Asia and Africa. RR works to provide girls with educational enhancement opportunities and life skills training. The organization reports that it has established 14,627 libraries, and has implemented its reading and writing instruction program in more than 1,800 classrooms. RR also reports that it has constructed 1,556 schools, and has published 723 original local language children’s titles.

For the year ended December 31, 2011, RTR's program expenses were:

School libraries 18,506,915
School construction 7,839,727
Reading and writing instruction 4,060,824
Book publishing 1,589,235
Girl's education 5,583,317
Total Program Expenses: $37,580,018

Governance & Staff

  • Chief Executive

    Erin Ganju, CEO

  • Compensation*

    $183,703

  • Chair of the Board

    John Wood

  • Chair's Profession / Business Affiliation

    Founder of Room to Read

  • Board Size

    11

  • Paid Staff Size

    576

*2011 compensation includes annual salary and, if applicable, benefit plans, expense accounts, and other allowances.

Fund Raising

Method(s) Used:

Direct mail, telemarketing, special events, grant proposals, Internet appeals, and cause-related marketing.
Fund raising costs were 9% of related contributions. (Related contributions, which totaled $47,966,460, are donations received as a result of fund raising activities.)

Tax Status

This organization is tax-exempt under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. It is eligible to receive contributions deductible as charitable donations for federal income tax purposes.

Financial

The following information is based on RTR's audited financial statements - consolidated with affiliates - for the year ended December 31, 2011.

Source of Funds
Individuals, net 27,647,244
Corporations 9,238,776
Donations in-kind 6,387,965
Foundations 3,704,282
School and other 988,193
Investment income 339,994
Book sales 18,249
Other income 8,683
Loss on currency exchange -43,749
Total Income $48,289,637
  • Programs: 84%
  • Fundraising: 10%
  • Administrative: 6%
Total Income $48,289,637
Program expenses 37,580,018
Fundraising expenses $4,425,170
Administrative expenses $2,646,068
Total expenses: $44,651,256
Income in Excess of Expenses 3,638,381
Beginning Net Assets 21,022,391
Other Changes In Net Assets -298,868
Ending Net Assets 24,361,904
Total Liabilities 1,943,620
Total Assets 26,305,524

Note 1: According to audited financial statements for the year ended December 31, 2011, RR received $6,387,965 of in-kind contributions, which included English language books ($5,484,591), office program software ($588,969), materials and services ($238,109), and rent ($76,296). Note 2: Other changes in net assets in the financial section above includes currency translation adjustment.

An organization may change its practices at any time without notice. A copy of this report has been shared with the organization prior to publication. It is not intended to recommend or deprecate, and is furnished solely to assist you in exercising your own judgment. If the report is about a charity and states the charity meets or does not meet the Standards for Charity Accountability, it reflects the results of an evaluation of information and materials provided voluntarily by the charity. The name Better Business Bureau is a registered service mark of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Inc.

This report is not to be used for fund raising or promotional purposes.