MTeam Fundraising: Where Does the Money Go?
We’re set ourselves a very lofty fundraising goal for the Best Buddies Challenge this year: $250,000.
The funds support the mission of Best Buddies International, which is “the world’s largest non-profit organization dedicated to ending the social, physical and economic isolation of the 200 million people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD).”
But what does that mean in practice? What is that money actually used for? And how much of it goes directly toward helping the community Best Buddies serves?
Let’s take a closer look…
Where the Money Goes: A Breakdown
Charity Navigator scores Best Buddies highly when it comes to financial transparency and accountability, saying, “Best Buddies International outperforms the majority of nonprofits in America with respect to fiscal responsibility”.
In fact, 83% of the money they raise goes directly into their programs and services. Just 5% goes to administrative expenses and the remaining 12% covers fundraising expenses.
Where the Money Goes: Programs
The community Best Buddies serves includes, but is not limited to, people with Down Syndrome, Autism, Fragile X, Williams Syndrome, Cerebral Palsy, traumatic brain injury and other undiagnosed disabilities.
There are four main pillars in the organization’s work. Each tackles a different area where the IDD community struggles with inclusion:
ONE TO ONE FRIENDSHIPS. People with IDD can often feel excluded or isolated, even if they are attending ordinary schools or living a relatively “normal” day-to-day life. This program aims to shift that culture. It starts as early as middle school where kids with IDD and kids without are matched up as buddies. The friendships that blossom help with self-confidence and self-esteem. The meaningful connections that are created are often life-long and, like any friends, the pair share their interests, experiences and activities. There are programs for high school and college students as well as adults and they’ve even launched an e-buddies program for online friendships.
INTEGRATED EMPLOYMENT. Diversity in the workplace is so important. Individuals with IDD are very often more than qualified to work and have abilities that can be incredibly beneficial to an organization that hires them. Unfortunately, 81% of adults with developmental disabilities do not have a paid job in the community. Best Buddies knows this, and their jobs program helps to bridge the gap. They match individuals who are both skilled and qualified with businesses who are looking for employees who will be enthusiastic and dedicated to their work. They create partnerships with employers, assist with the hiring process and provide ongoing support to both parties. This gives people with IDD an opportunity to earn an income, pay taxes and independently support themselves.
LEADERSHIP DEVELOPMENT. Best Buddies helps people with IDD build their confidence, self-esteem and important career skills through leadership coaching. Their ambassadors are given both group and private training as well as practice with speech writing and public and conversational speaking. They are taught how to advocate for themselves, their peers and Best Buddies in their communities, workplaces and government. There’s also a promoters program which empowers young people to become advocates for people with IDD, to open new Best Buddies Chapters in schools and organize special inclusive events that promote awareness of the disability rights movement.
INCLUSIVE LIVING. This is the newest pillar in Best Buddies’ work, which supports community, independence, and skills development. It encourages people with and without IDD to live together in vibrant communities that focus on supporting all of the residents in accomplishing their life goals. It gives people with IDD the opportunity to live in a dynamic environment where they can learn, grow and thrive. Residents will share meals, participate in cultural events and holiday parties together and have access to fitness classes, sports and social activities. It encourages independence, friendships and opportunities for personal growth. The Best Buddies Living Residence is based in Los Angeles, CA and will be opening soon for residents.
Meet some Best Buddies Ambassadors
We’ve really enjoyed connecting with some of the Best Buddies Ambassadors in past Q&As on our blog. If you missed them and would like to read some firsthand experiences people have had with Best Buddies, take a minute to meet:
Where the Money Goes: MTeam Initiatives
While our fundraising efforts for the Best Buddies Challenge go exclusively to Best Buddies International, The MTeam is also committed to supporting a very special member of the IDD community. Meredith Lewis is the “M” in MTeam and our Chief Motivating Officer for the Best Buddies Challenge.
Meredith was born with a rare neuro-developmental disorder called FOXG1 Syndrome, characterized by seizures, inability to control body movements, lack of speech and visual impairments. Meredith cannot walk or talk and is unable to use her body with purpose.
Recently, The MTeam was able to go beyond our fundraising efforts for Best Buddies. We spent $5,000 on a piece of technology for Meredith’s school that would revolutionize the way her and her classmates are able to communicate. The technology she now has access to, and is learning to use every day, is called a Tobii Dynavox PCEye Plus. This piece of assistive technology allows Meredith to use her eye movements to select words or images on a screen. This is life-changing.