Our animal sanctuary was founded with a unique and definite overriding purpose and mission that guides us in all we do. (To learn more, please see our Mission Statement.)
As much as we are dedicated to the care and wellbeing of the animals in our sanctuary, we feel the same responsibility to the care and wellbeing of our finances. We also have a strong commitment to our supporters as we pledge that their donations are used to fund our programs rather than for administrative and fundraising purposes. The future of our organization involves the lives of the animals in our care, as well as the flora and fauna in our Nature Sanctuary, and they are never just numbers on a piece of paper. Their very lives and future depends on our fiscal wellbeing now and going forward.
We welcome visitors to enjoy the farm and Nature Sanctuary and to be touched by the peace and beauty of the land. We also welcome people to come see firsthand how the animals and Nature Sanctuary are cared for and tended to for their physical, emotional, and spiritual needs. With this in mind, we also believe in donors and supporters being able to see where their gifts go and how their donations and endowments are nurtured and cared for. Below is information about our financial picture so that you can see exactly how donations are not only gratefully appreciated, but how they are used and tended to, for now and the future of our organization.
Spring Farm CARES is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization founded in 1991 by Bonnie Jones Reynolds and Dawn E. Hayman. Bonnie donated all of her family’s dairy farm property (250+ acres plus structures) to the non-profit sanctuary.
During the early years of the organization, Bonnie and Dawn – besides performing much of the physical labor to care for the animals – also carried on subsidiary entrepreneurial activities to earn money to support the sanctuary. The fire of 1993, where the small animal facility was lost due to a power surge on the utility line, was a significant financial setback, but the organization survived.
In 1999, Spring Farm CARES received an unexpected $16.8 million bequest. The funds from the bequest are restricted and may not be spent. Only the interest and dividend income from the investment of that bequest may be used to support operations.
The significant additional income from the bequest allowed for the replacement of the small animal facility and the start of our spay/neuter assistance and “trap-neuter-release” programs, which to-date have facilitated the sterilization of over 80,000 cats and dogs, as well as the development of the Nature Sanctuary on much of the 250+ acres.
FINANCIAL MANAGEMENT PHILOSOPHY
A majority of the 250 animals on average residing with us at any one time are permanent residents, as they are elderly, have special needs, are “useless” to the general public, or just have no other place to go. We not only provide these animal friends with the best of care and a safe haven for life, but with an enriched atmosphere of communication and cooperation that is immediately sensed and appreciated by visitors. To remain true to our original intent, and to our commitment to life-long care for the animals who reside with us at any given time, we need to insure that adequate finances will always be available. For instance, cats may live as long as 20 years, horses sometimes into their late thirties, and donkeys (we currently have six) to the age of 40 or 50 years. Our financial planning must, then, be very long term. And it is. We are now in our 25th year and are making plans and provisions for the next 25 years and beyond. Our Nature Sanctuary even has a 100-year plan.
Thus the overriding objective in the management of our investment and contribution income is to insure funds for the programs of our non-profit organization now and for the long-term future. We have no desire to, in any major way, expand the current infrastructure or operations of Spring Farm CARES. We believe that what we have developed and are offering both to the animals and to the public is of great worth as it stands. Our only “expansions” will be in just doing what we are currently doing better. However, we find ourselves akin to a runner on a treadmill that keeps going faster and faster. As the cost of everything – health insurance, regular insurance, animal feed and supplies, services, and most especially wages - is rising at an alarming rate on an annual basis, we have to run faster and faster just to stay in the same place! In other words, to guarantee continuous responsible funding for our various programs, we must continuously increase donation and investment income.
When we received the restricted $16.8 million bequest in 1999, we invested the total amount in US Treasuries. At that time, that investment was secure and the yield was several percentage points above inflation. However, since then the yield from US Treasuries has substantially declined while, concurrently, operating costs have increased well beyond even the rate of inflation. As a consequence, we had to change our initial “Conservative Income” investment strategy.
In 2007 we started to divest ourselves of the US Treasuries at a substantial capital gain. We reinvested all of the proceeds in high rated securities, which provided greater income and, at the same time, had potential for future growth. We currently pursue a “Long Term Growth and Income” investment strategy.
When we re-allocate investments it is with the goal of increasing long term total return on the investment. Thus, capital gains on trades are reinvested rather than being used to pay for operating expenses. This is the only way we can achieve the higher income that we will need to pay increasing expenses over the coming years. Even our capital improvements are usually paid for from our regular income.
WHY WE NEED YOUR SUPPORT
As a charitable organization, we derive our support exclusively from public donations, bequests, occasional grants from foundations, and from interest and dividend income. The 1999 bequest of $16.8 million is restricted and may not be touched. We do not receive any tax money or other government support. Our annual investment income is about $1.1 million and our expenses are about $1.5 million or above. Every year the shortfall needs to be covered from donations, bequests, or grants.
Our financial performance metrics remain fairly constant over the years: About 89% of our total expenses are spent on our program offerings, 8% on management and general expenses (including professional auditors), and 3% on fundraising. (See Form 990, Part IX “Statement of Functional Expenses”). Please note that we do not use professional fundraising services. For the last three years our Working Capital Ratio has been 5 years or higher.
We would like to draw your attention to the very modest compensation of our officers (Form 990, Part VII) who reside on the property, work seven days a week and provide care for sick animals in the middle of the night when needed. Our highest paid officer is Bonnie Jones Reynolds, President, whose annual compensation in 2015 was $25,480. Dawn Hayman, Vice-President, and Margot Unkel,Treasurer, take no compensation. These three officers received health/dental insurance benefits for a combined annual total of $14,579.
As we apply for grants, these are at times denied with the explanation that we should sell investments with unrealized capital gains to finance projects or our ongoing operation. However, as explained above, if we were to do this, we would be unable to grow interest and dividend income, which we will need to keep pace with increasing expenses. Assuming a 3 to 5% dividend yield or interest rate, the only conservative way to increase investment income is to increase the amount invested.
OUR FINANCIAL DATA
Please use the links to the left to see our IRS Form 990 and our Audited Financial Statements.
As you review our Form 990 for 2015, you will see that our “Revenue less Expenses” (Part I, Line 19) was $940,489. This looks as if the organization had “a lot of money left over” for the year. However, please note that, of our total revenue of $2.5 million, $1.07 million was a capital gain derived from the sale of investments (Part VIII, lines 7 a-d). This gain was not made available to pay for expenses, but was reinvested according to our strategy presented above, with the exception that we used about $175,000 to pay for the installation of our solar system. This system, however, significantly reduces our energy expenses and is part of our longevity strategy.
Conservation and growth of our investments is of utmost importance to assure the long term financial viability of our organization and thus to allow us to fulfill our responsibilities to the animals in our care, to the public that puts its trust in our longevity, and to the natural environment being restored in our Nature Sanctuary.
Our farm sanctuary is open to visitors from 10 am to 4 pm, 365 days a year. (Groups requiring tours of the farm or Nature Sanctuary need to book in advance, so that we have the proper people available to show you around.) But you are invited at all times to come and enjoy the peace and beauty of this place. You can just sit in our beautiful hall or in the cat rooms, giving and receiving affection to and from kittens or cats. Or you can enjoy our gardens, filled with flowers in season, and with intriguing sculptures and works of art. (It should be noted that all of the artwork and statuary, both inside the sanctuary and outside, has been donated or else is on loan for the enjoyment of visitors. No Spring Farm CARES funds have been spent for the purchase of any artwork.)