• Courtney Heard

You Might Be Shocked To Find Out How We Spend Your Donations

“How much of the money do you keep?” It’s a question we, as nonprofit workers, hear several times a week. As a not for profit organization, we find ourselves asking for money each and every day. That is the very nature of the beast. We get nothing done, we go nowhere, help no one and change nothing without the generous gifts we get from our donors.

So, when someone asks, “How much of this do you keep?” we struggle to understand the question.

Do you mean, “How much do you keep to pay your bills?” because the answer to that is: it changes. You can see a pretty basic breakdown of how we spend our money on our donation page here. This isn’t really “keeping” the money, though.

Do you mean, “How much do you put in your pockets?” because we don’t. It’s true, we firmly believe that hard work should be rewarded. We also believe that volunteering is not as sustainable as paid labour. Most importantly, we want the people who keep our organization running to be able to pay their bills. However, none of us “keeps” the donations arbitrarily. When an employee gets paid, rest assured, they are getting paid a fair (but not excessive) wage for very hard work, as it should be.

Do you mean, “How much does the organization keep beyond its bills?” because we don’t. We can’t. By law. As a non-profit, we are obligated to cycle any surplus funding back into our programs and initiatives. You can actually count on the fact that the more you give, the more we can do.

As an organization, sometimes it feels as though critics imagine we steal away with any excess to some tropical island and sip mai tais while evil-cackling about how we tricked you all out of your hard-earned dollars.

I can assure you that this is not IAA. It’s not enough for us to say it, though, and we get that. That’s why one of our most talked-about values is transparency. That’s why we post screenshots of bank transfers or share money receipt confirmations from partner organizations for whom we fundraised. That’s why we list what we need on our donation page.

No, sadly, each and every volunteer and board member at International Association of Atheists feels saving and bettering lives is a far better time than learning to windsurf from a sun-kissed Chet in Belize.

Sure, compassion doesn’t cost money, but the reality is that nearly everything else does.

We need donations to keep our organization running so that we can continue to support atheists around the world. Our fight for secular rights and education includes big goals that require basic functional items like paper, postage, and digital software. Even a small donation can have a huge impact.

We don’t always have the opportunity to start a dedicated fundraiser for each atheist in danger or each person who needs our help fighting blasphemy charges. Sometimes, we have to send money straight from our bank account. We don’t do that without your help. Even tiny amounts make a difference.

In the words of self-described “gaythiest” Fernando Alcantar, atheists can’t just be “busy reading papers and making discoveries,” leaving the business of saving people to churches and religion. As a new organization, we are severely underrepresented in the nonprofit world. Unfortunately, this means a lot of people who need our help may not get it, without your help.

So, let’s leave behind the idea that community and charity are for the religious, and become a part of something special. We’ve tucked away our bikinis and snorkels because our dream isn’t an all-inclusive in the Bahamas. Our dream is to help atheists, change lives and work with you. You’ll find we are ready to listen with open arms and open hearts. Join IAA… let’s do some good in this world together.

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