Here, you'll find the answers to the questions we're asked most frequently about supporting Modest Needs, and a bit more about the unique opportunities for personal involvement in the gifting process that we offer to members of the Modest Needs Community.
The fastest, easiest and most secure way to support Modest Needs is to make a monthly pledge/one-time gift using our secure online payment form.
If you'd like to support Modest Needs but would prefer not to make your donation online, we offer several other ways to support Modest Needs. These include making a gift or pledge by check or through your bank's bill payment software, volunteering your skills, even selling on eBay to benefit Modest Needs. And of course, you're welcome to make a gift or pledge by phone by calling (212) 463-7042.
If you are a donor from the United States, yes. Modest Needs is a registered 501 (c) (3) (tax exempt) organization, Federal ID #47-0863430. Any contribution that you make to Modest Needs is tax deductible to the fullest extent of the law.
If you are a donor from Canada, you contributions to Modest Needs are not yet tax deductible for you. Given the very small number of applications and donations we received from Canada, we have not yet determined whether we will seek tax exempt status in Canada.
When you give to Modest Needs, you are making an unrestricted contribution to Modest Needs, the organization.
When you give points to an application, you are recommending to us that we fund the application and helping us to determine the order in which the applications we've already received, vetted and approved will receive the amount of funding we have available, but you are not giving money directly to the person who placed that application.
The answer to this question is very, very important. We want you to be informed when you give online, so please read the answer to this question very carefully:
In the many years since Modest Needs launched, a number of 'copycat' websites have sprung up all over the Internet. These websites allow people to list 'needs 'that they have and allow you to give gifts of money directly to those people.
Those 'copycat' websites are not - repeat, NOT - registered charities. Instead, they are 'donation aggregators' - for-profit businesses that let people post requests for anything they want, perform little (if any) due-diligence on the applications they receive and take a substantial 'cut' of the funds that people raise through these websites. The persons who own and operate these copycat sites must then pay tax on their profits.
This is why money you give to persons via these copycat websites is both unsecure and not tax-deductible to you. It is also the reason that you can 'restrict' money you give on these copycat sites to any person you like. When you give money to a person via one of these copycat sites, the IRS doesn't see what you do on these copycat sites as making a charitable contribution. They see it as you making a gift, and gifts you make to people are not tax-deductible to you.
As a registered charity, Modest Needs is subject to the rules and regulations set forth by state and federal agencies, including the Internal Revenue Service. One of these rules specifies that donors to charity may not make a gift to any charity with the condition that the charity then 'pass' that gift to a specific individual selected by the donor, and no one else.
This practice, called 'targeted giving,' is prohibited by the IRS because, if this rule were not in place, you could make a contribution to a bona-fide charity, 'restrict' that gift to yourself, to a member of your family, or someone else you know personally, force the charity to send your money to that specific person, and then, at the end of the year, claim that you made a tax-deductible contribution to a charity when, really, you made a non-tax-deductible gift to a friend or family member and used a charity to do it.
For this reason, when you give to Modest Needs, state/federal laws and IRS regulations require that the gift be unrestricted, and made to Modest Needs itself. While you may recommend to us which applications you believe we ought to prioritize using the methods we provide on our website, the final determinations concerning which applications we approve for display on our website and which applications we actually fund must, by law, rest with Modest Needs itself.
Of course, we try to follow donor recommendations as to the order in which we fund applications whenever possible - and usually, this is possible, since, before any application appears on our website, we've already determined that the application falls within Modest Needs' funding guidelines and that we will fund that application if funding becomes available.
But by law, for the reasons outlined above, we cannot and do not ever absolutely guarantee that a contribution you make to Modest Needs will be used to fund an application you've recommended that we prioritize, and we cannot accept contributions that a donor attempts to 'restrict' to a particular individual. Because we work to help individuals in need of assistance, for us to do either of these things would jeopardize Modest Needs' tax-exempt status.
No. Because we know that many persons living in the same household wish to track their charitable contributions separately, you and the persons living in your household may create as many donor registrations as you think are necessary to appropriately track your household's giving.
However, if at all possible, we would ask that you limit the number of donor registrations you create to ONE per household member (we define 'household member' here as 'a person who resides at your physical address.')
Limiting your donor registrations in this way limits both the size of our database and our cost to maintain it. We sincerely appreciate your cooperation in this regard.
Yes. To safeguard your sensitive personal information, our online payment form is secured using the highest level of encryption available and is powered by Bank of America and Authorize.net, the leaders in secure online payments.
Additionally, and as an added layer of security, Modest Needs DOES NOT archive or retain access to your credit / debit card data. Once your contribution is complete, we electronically 'shred' your contribution data such that is it never again accessible to anyone - not even Modest Needs' staff members have access to it.
Additionally, if you make a recurring contribution, your billing information is stored, not at Modest Needs, but at Authorize.net, which is fully licensed, secured and able to store sensitive data such as the data necessary to process you pledge payment.
We take the issue of donor security very seriously at Modest Needs and work diligent to protect the your personal data and financial information.
While Modest Needs ultimately determines which of the applications we receive are eligible for funding, as a donor, you can help us determine the order in which we allocate our funding to the applications you see on our website - the applications that we've already determined qualify for a Modest Needs grant, pending available funding .
Each time you make a tax-deductible contribution to Modest Needs, we credit your Modest Needs account with 'points' that you can allocate to the prequalified applications at Modest Needs that mean the most to you.
These points are our way of giving our donors 'voting power.' Each point that you give to a request for help amounts to a recommendation that we fund that application as quickly as we can and moves this pre approved application closer to position one for funding.
In this way, Modest Needs gives our donors the power to participate directly in our grant-making process by telling us - simply, quickly, and directly - which of our pre-approved applications you would like for us to prioritize in our grant-making.
Modest Needs is the only charity of its kind in the world to allow its donors this level of hands-on participation in our grant-making process.
When you contribute to Modest Needs, we credit your account with 'points' that you can use to recommend to us which applications you feel most strongly ought to receive funding priority from Modest needs.
Currently, donors to Modest Needs receive one point, or 'vote,' for every dollar that he or she contributes to Modest Needs. When we have a matching grant in place (and this is often the case at Modest Needs), persons who sign up for automatically recurring contributions (a weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly pledge) receive two points for each dollar that he or she contributes to Modest Needs.
We calculate the cost of applications (and the value of donor contributions) in 'points' rather than dollars in order to keep our online record of donor contributions to Modest Needs accurate at all times.
Modest Needs' online system keeps a running record of the contributions donors have made all year so that, at year's end, donors can print their tax receipts on their own. This system works perfectly - unless we have a matching grant in place.
If we were to use dollars rather than 'points' in calculating the values of contributions and applications at Modest Needs, then in order for our system to know how much a donor could 'spend' whenever we had a matching grant in place, we'd have to temporarily credit each donor account with double the dollar value of each match-eligible contribution.
Then, at tax time, prior to issuing tax receipts to donors, we'd have to go through each donor account and calculate how much a donor actually contributed to Modest Needs vs. how many of the contributions in his or her record were actually 'matching' money, and not really contributions that donor had made to Modest Needs.
Given that Modest Needs accepts contributions from upwards of 40,000 persons per year, to complete the process described above manually would take a minimum of two months per year.
In order to avoid an accounting nightmare of this magnitude altogether, we simply decided to value both applications and contributions in terms of 'points' instead of dollars on Modest Needs' website.
This way, whenever we have a matching grant in place, we can simply tell our system to give our donors twice as many 'points' to spend for every eligible contribution that person makes without having to adjust the actual dollar amount of contributions that individual has made during the year. Our online record of donor contributions remains consistent, and we are able to give our donors the opportunity to disburse their share of any matching funds we have available.
The point value of an application (the number of points an application needs to be funded by Modest Needs) is equal to the actual amount of assistance requested by the applicant, plus the program-related costs that Modest Needs incurs in the course of processing, vetting, and then funding an application.
At Modest Needs, we calculate the cost of fulfillment on a sliding scale (the less the cost of an application, the less it costs us to process and perform appropriate due-diligence on that application), as follows:
|If the Cost of An Application is:||$400.99 or less||$401.00 to $1000.00||Greater than $1000.00|
|We Calculate Cost of Fulfillment at:||15% of the cost of the application||20% of the cost of the application||25% of the cost of the application|
Important Note: At Modest Needs, we often receive grants from larger foundations sufficient to cover the cost of fulfillment in full.
When we are operating under a grant of this type, the funds that would normally go towards the cost of fulfillment instead are allocated to our emergency fund, which we use to assist persons who apply and qualify for help from Modest Needs but need that help MUCH more quickly than is normally possible under our donor review process.
Under these circumstances, each contribution that you make to Modest Needs helps, not just the individual(s) to which you allocate your points, but persons who urgently need to receive the assistance for which they've applied.
Current Status of Fulfillment Cost: As of 11-15-2010, our fulfillment charge is helping to cover the cost of processing, vetting, and funding the applications Modest Needs receives each day. We hope to have a new grant sufficient to cover the cost of fulfillment in full on or about 1 January 2011.
We update this section of our FAQ as necessary to keep our donors apprised as to how we are funding the cost of fulfillment at Modest Needs.
Absolutely! In fact, many donors tell us that the most rewarding part of contributing to Modest Needs is reading the 'testimonials' of the persons their contributions have made it possible for Modest Needs to help.
To receive testimonials from the persons in whose applications you've invested by email, just login to Modest Needs, click the 'registration' link at the top of the page, select 'Yes' in the option next to 'receive testimonials by email,' and then click 'update.'
From that point forward, you'll receive testimonials from the persons in whose grant applications you've recommended that we prioritize as they post to our system.
You can also browse all of the testimonials that we receive from our funded applicants by clicking the 'Testimonials' link in our top menu, above.
Points you invest in applications that we cannot fund are administratively credited back to your account as soon as that application expires.
This way, in the event that you invest some of your points in an application that expires before Modest Needs is able to fund it, these points remain available to you to invest in other pre-qualified applications for assistance.
Yes. If you'd like to have Modest Needs invest some of your points for you on a daily basis, just change your settings on your Personal Page by clicking "Update my Profile."
Clicking 'Update My Profile' will take you to your registration page. On that page, scroll down to the section called "Point Allocation Options" and select "I would prefer for Modest Needs to allocate my points according to the preferences I set below."
Once you make this selection, you'll be able to select the grant types and causes most important to you. Then, every evening, Modest Needs will automatically allocate some of your points to applications that meet the criteria you've selected. You'll be able to see exactly how your points have been invested on your behalf via the Contribution Details section of your personal page.
Additionally, if you elect to receive testimonials by email, each time a grant application in which you've invested is fully funded by our donors, you'll receive the personal 'Thank you' note left by the individual or non-profit organization you made it possible for us to assist.
You can change your point allocation preferences at any time - or elect to allocate your own points with no help from Modest Needs at all - any time you like simply by following the directions above.
No. However, if you choose to personally invest your points, you have 60 days, from the date of your donation, to do so. After that date, your points are forwarded to the Modest Needs staff to invest in applications as it sees fit.
This time restriction is designed to encourage you and other donors to put your money to work as soon as possible to help out applicants who often are dealing with time-sensitive situations.
However, if you are saving up your points to fund a specific application or to accumulate points for gift certificates, please simply send an email to donor support to let us know.
One of Modest Needs' most important policies is that of complete operational transparency.For information on Modest Needs' past years' financial activities, we invite you to review our online Annual Reports, available from 2005 to present. Our online annual reports contain a summary of each year's achievements and access to our Form 990, Independent Auditor's Report, and 501 c 3 determination letter.
Additionally, you can view the complete history of every application Modest Needs has funded, from inception to present (including links to the 'thank you' notes left by those persons we've been able to help, by having a look at our 'Browse Applications' page.
In addition, you can view Modest Needs' profiles at Guidestar.Org, Network For Good, and the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance, which has awarded Modest Needs the very highest rating it is possible for a charity to receive.
If you have other questions about our use of your donations that are not answered by any of these sources, please contact us, and we'll respond to your question as quickly as possible.
These sections of our website contain comprehensive information about Modest Needs' grant making process and eligibility requirements, both for individual applicants and for non-profit organizations.
At Modest Needs, we take very seriously the responsibility of using your gifts wisely.
The most important steps we take in this regard are a) we perform extensive due-diligence on each application we receive and b) we do not ever send cash directly to applicants.
Rather, when our donors authorize Modest Needs to fund a request for help, we pay the bill with which the applicant has requested help directly on that person's behalf. For this reason, we always know exactly how your contributions have been used.
But we do much more than this to safeguard our donors' contributions. To learn more about the steps we take to make sure your contributions get to the people who need legitimately need your help the most, please read our Donor Security FAQ.
Yes. If you like, you can use the points in your Modest Needs account to create gift certificates you can send to friends and family.
A Modest Needs gift certificate is more than just a thoughtful gesture. It actually gives your recipient the ability to instantly change life.
You can create a beautifully customized Modest Needs gift certificate from the points in your Modest Needs account in two minutes or less.
You can also choose to have your gift certificate instantly delivered via email or, if you prefer, you can print and send the gift certificate to your recipient yourself.
To learn more or to create a gift certificate, just follow this link.
Yes. Modest Needs Gift Certificates expire one year after the date that they are purchased.
If you provide an email address for your gift certificate recipient, and that person has not redeemed that gift certificate within 11 months of the date that you purchased it, we will send an email reminder to your recipient inviting him or her to invest his or her points.
If the gift certificate is not redeemed within one year from the date of its purchase, Modest Needs will 'revoke' that gift certificate and return the points you used to purchase it to your account so that you can invest these points as you see fit.
Your Modest Needs Gift Certificate is automatically redeemed when you log in with your gift certificate redemption code.. When you enter your gift certificate redemption code and click 'Continue,' the points attached to that gift certificate are deposited into your Modest Needs account and can be invested in whichever application most appeals to you.
If you try to redeem your gift certificate and receive the message that your gift certificate already has been redeemed, this means that the points associated with your Modest Needs Gift Certificate ALREADY have been deposited into your donor account. All you have to do is invest them.
Yes. To make a gift or pledge via your checking account using your bank's bill payment software, just input the amount of your one time gift or recurring pledge using the following payee information:
Payee Name: Modest Needs Foundation
Payee Address: 115 E 30th St, FL 1, New York, NY 10016
Contact Number: 1.212.463.7042.
That's all there is to it. Once - or once monthly - your bank will automatically send a check in the amount you specify to Modest Needs.
If you need further help with this process, just contact us or give us a call at (212) 463-7042, and we'll be happy to help you in any way that we can.
Yes. If your employer offers a matching gift incentive, then all you have to do is send your gift, along with your employer's matching gift form, to:
Modest Needs Foundation
115 E 30th St, FL 1
New York, NY 10016
Immediately upon receipt, we'll fill out the matching gift form and return it, plus any necessary documentation, to your employer.
You may need Modest Needs Foundation's Federal Tax ID number to expedite this process. Modest Needs' Federal Tax ID Number is 47-0863430.
Please note that Modest Needs cannot add points from the employee match into your donor account, as this would create a tax record indicating that you'd actually given twice your original contribution. However, if you would like to follow up to see if we have received the matching grant, please contact us.
Yes. If you're considering making a gift of stock, then you probably are aware of the significant tax benefits available to those persons who make gifts of appreciated stock to charity. Such gifts can tremendously reduce your tax liability while assisting a large number of persons who have requested help from Modest Needs. We're very happy to be able to accept gifts of this type.
Modest Needs maintains a brokerage account for the sole purpose of receiving gifts of appreciated stock. If you'd like to make a gift of stock in any amount, please call (212) 463-7042 or contact us by e-mail. We'll give you all the information you need to initiate the stock transfer.
Not at this time. Modest Needs simply does not have the staff or space available to receive, catalogue, and responsibly distribute tangible items.
There are, however, several terrific organizations with the space, funding and personnel necessary to distribute goods to persons who need them the most. If you'd like to make a donation of this type, please consider either GoodWill or The Salvation Army.
To update your current pledge to Modest Needs, just navigate to your personal page and click the button marked 'Manage This Pledge' next to the pledge you'd like to change. Our Pledge Management wizard will walk you through the process of updating your pledge to Modest Needs.
That depends on the frequency of your pledge and on the date it was created.
If you sign up for a monthly pledge before the 22nd of the month, your account will be debited on the first day of the following month and on the first day of every month thereafter, unless you have specifically requested a different debit schedule. If you sign up for a monthly pledge after the 22nd of each month, your account will be debited on the first day of the second month following the month that you created your pledge, then on the first day of each month thereafter.
For example, if you sign up for a monthly pledge on 15 February, your next scheduled debit would take place on 1 March. On the other hand, if you were to sign up for a monthly pledge on any date from 22 February to 28 February, your next scheduled debit would take place on 1 April. (This avoids your being debited two times in rapid succession.)
If you made a biweekly pledge, your payment will be programmed to post 14 days after the date you made your initial contribution, and every 14 days thereafter.
If you made a weekly pledge, your payment will be programmed to post 7 days after the date you made your initial contribution, and every 7 days thereafter.
You can see a complete record of the donations you have made to Modest Needs by logging in to our website and visiting your personal page.
You can see a complete, itemized record of every contribution you've made to Modest Needs since 2004 and a list of all applications in which you've invested your Modest Needs points by clicking the 'Contribution Details' link on that page.
Please note that if you make a donation using our secure online payment form, that gift is recorded instantly.
If you donate by phone or by mail, your donation is recorded as soon as we receive it.
We certainly respect your desire to give anonymously. To elect this option, from your personal page, click 'Edit My Info' and then de-select the option 'make contributions visible' (this option is selected by default). At that point, your donations will be visible on your personal page, but you will be listed as 'Anonymous' on the Modest Needs Community Roster.
Yes. At Modest Needs, donors who are also registered users of Modest Needs receive an e-mail thanking them for their gifts as their gifts are entered into our database. These emails are themselves acceptable as receipts for tax purposes.
Additionally, in the second week of January of each year, we send year-end gift statements (which also can be used as receipts for tax purposes) to all persons whose gifts total more than $200 for the year, as well as to any person who requests a formal record of their donations to Modest Needs.
Certainly. Please contact us either by telephone or email, and we'll do our best to answer your question as quickly as possible.