JARC Fundraising Practices FAQs

Donors to every charitable organization should be concerned about how their dollars are spent, and should actively seek information to better understand how donated money is spent, says Rick Loewenstein, CEO of JARC. “We do not contract outside fundraisers to help us meet our charitable giving goals. In fact, we choose to build strong relationships with our donors, which means that a higher percentage of their donations goes directly to JARC services, directly to those who need it most, rather than to pay professional fundraising organizations for their services,” says Loewenstein.

Kids of all ages enjoy SpringElation at the Detroit Zoo - JARC's spring fundraiser to benefit the Harris Children and Family Division (photo by volunteer, Jeff Aisen)

How does JARC measure up to the Better Business Bureau fundraising guidelines?

According to these guidelines, no more than 35 cents of every dollar should be used on fundraising efforts. So that means 65 cents should go to the charity. In our case, 88 cents of every dollar goes directly to support JARC services. That’s more than double the Better Business Bureau guidelines.

JARC must have some fundraising costs. How do these measure up?

We understand that you must spend some money to bring money in. There are event costs, staff costs, and print material to spread awareness of the work we do. We seek out and maximize business buddies who donate services, or who provide a reduced fee for goods and services, whenever we can. We keep a very close eye on our expenses.

So how much does JARC spend to raise funds?

The cost of raising money at JARC is 12%, meaning our cost to raise a dollar is only 12 cents. In other words, 88 cents of every dollar raised goes toward JARC services and programs. If you look at our total budget, however, the cost of fund raising actually reduces to 3%. These numbers are important. Seventy percent of our budget comes from government sources, with 30% from personal donors. This means special events, annual giving, tributes and general donations account for $3 million of our budget.

What is JARC’s philosophy with regard to raising funds?

This is an important question. We want people to know we are lean, and also that we work tirelessly to develop deep relationships with our donors, which in some cases span generations. We have talented, experienced staff who have worked in development and fundraising for decades. An outside fundraiser may be able to understand what it is we do, but we really work at a deeper level, and our staff members intimately know the people who are receiving our services and programs. This is an understanding an outside fundraiser will never have.

How do you retain your lifelong donors?

We focus on a lifetime relationship with our donors, just as we create a lifetime relationship with those we serve. We also pride ourselves on transparency and plenty of communication - not just once a year to build an annual fund, but continual news about the work we are doing to support those with developmental disabilities. For example, after a fundraising event, we personally reach out to our donors to say thank you for coming to the event. And people are surprised to hear from us. That’s a good thing. It shows we really value that relationship.


JARC supports crowd the Fox Theatre lobby for the annual Fall Fundriaser (photo courtesy of Michael A. Jonas Photography)What is in the future for JARC fundraisers?

Certainly, we will continue the collaborative fundraising work we do with our long-term supporters, but we are always open to new ideas, to meeting new people, to engaging new people. While we can’t hold as many awareness-building events as we’d like, we always see the value in having meaningful conversations with younger members of the community as well as donors who have been with us for the longest period of time. The larger community has lost young people due to the economy, there is no mystery there, but we are working very hard to attract them to JARC, as they start to move back to the city. We want them to know about the services we provide long term, for a lifetime, to those with developmental disabilities.

Will the need for JARC services ever go away?

No. We have been here for 43 years, serving the community in metro Detroit, and the need for our services continues to grow. Whether it’s providing services to children with autism or allowing those we serve to age in place gracefully in their JARC home, these services require more staffing and training, so the needs never go away. We can’t cut shifts if the economy falters; we must serve everyday.