CharityWatch has issued 350.org a "?" rating for its fiscal year ended 9/30/2018 due to our specific concerns related to aspects of the charity's financial reporting.
CharityWatch analyzed the fiscal 2018 tax Form 990 and audited financial statements of 350.org and contacted the organization via email and U.S. Mail in June and July 2020, respectively, with questions about its financial reporting. On August 13th, 2020, the charity communicated in an email that answering the questions is taking "longer than planned" and that they are "working on this." As a result, CharityWatch is unable to conduct a meaningful evaluation of 350.org at this time to determine its program and fundraising efficiency and assign it a letter grade rating.
In a July 17th, 2020 letter to 350.org's Executive Director, Gillian May Boeve, we asked the charity to explain why Form 990 Schedule D was not completed. This is the schedule that reconciles a charity's tax form and audit reporting, accounting for any discrepancies between the two. For example, the charity reports grants and contributions of $19,128,157 in its tax form, but the audit reporting reflects $100,000 less than this amount. CharityWatch is unable to confidently compute 350.org's fundraising efficiency without understanding what accounts for this difference or if one of the financial documents contains an error.
We also asked 350.org to confirm that $1,157,657 of reported spending on "Events & Materials" in its Form 990 is properly reported in the correct section. The charity includes almost 99% of this total in its reported program expenses. In asking this question, CharityWatch was attempting to discern whether or not some or all of these expenses should have instead been netted from fundraising events revenue in a different section of the Form 990 rather than included in program expenses. In the absence of such information, CharityWatch is unable to confidently compute 350.org's program efficiency percentage.
CharityWatch observed in 350.org's Form 990 that it reports spending $5,140,438 on "Consulting Services." This line item comprises more than one-third of 350.org's fiscal 2018 reported total expenses of $15,450,256, and the portion of this amount the charity claims are program-related expenses amounts to $4,713,283. This latter amount accounts for nearly 39% of 350.org's total program spending in fiscal 2018. We asked 350.org to provide a brief description of the consulting services included in this line item. We also asked the charity if this spending on consulting services triggered any additional required IRS disclosures for joint costs, Schedule G reporting on fundraising activities, or an accounting of any independent contractors who received $100,000 or more from the charity in calendar year 2017. 350.org reported no joint costs, did not attached a Schedule G to its Form 990, and does not disclose any independent contractors on Part VII, Section B of its Form 990 other than a $114,375 payment for "Law Services." In the absence of such information, CharityWatch is unable to confidently compute 350.org's program efficiency percentage.
CharityWatch also asked 350.org to disclose to us the names of its related legal entities, if any, which could inform our analysis of its audited financial statements in consideration of potential related party transactions.
Finally, 350.org's fiscal 2018 audited financial statements report as a subsequent event a "significant unaudited loss" that occurred during the fiscal year-ended 9/30/2019. We asked the charity if it was willing to provide CharityWatch with any additional information regarding the nature and amount of this loss.
Should 350.org provide information to CharityWatch at a future date that will allow us to complete a meaningful evaluation of its financial activities for fiscal 2018 or a future year, we may update the charity's rating at that time.