In keeping with our commitment to operational transparency, Modest Needs publishes an annual report which is freely accessible to the public at large both via our website or in hard-copy.

The purpose of this annual report is to update interested persons on our prior year's program service achievements and to report on other significant accomplishments by Modest Needs throughout 2008.

Our Mission Statement

At Modest Needs, we work:

  • To prevent otherwise financially self-sufficient individuals and families from entering the cycle of poverty, when this might be avoided with a small amount of well-timed financial assistance;

  • To restore the financial self-sufficiency of individuals who are willing to work but are temporarily unable to do so because they do not have the means to remit payment for a work-related expense; and

  • To empower permanently disadvantaged individuals who otherwise live within their limited means to continue to live independently, despite a temporary, unexpected financial set-back.

A Year of Expansion

For Modest Needs, 2008 could best be characterized as a year of efficient expansion - a year in which we've tested the boundaries of our program to determine how we might best serve our applicants across the United States and worked to cut costs through technical innovation. Milestones along these lines in 2008 included:

  • The creation of a West Coast office, based in San Francisco; and
  • The debut of new grant programs designed for use by social-workers and non-profit organizations.

The creation of a West Coast office, based in San Francisco

At Modest Needs, we have always been aware that, even though our website is available 24 hours a day, there are times that our donors and applicants would like to speak with us about issues related to their applications and contributions. Modest Needs' office hours (9:00am to 5:00pm Eastern Time) have often made this a difficult prospect for those persons living in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones.

Additionally, we have long been aware that our grantees living in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones sometimes experience a delay in the receipt of their grant funding, simply because of the distance that our checks have had to travel in order to reach those persons

With these and other concerns in mind, in mid-2008, Modest Needs sought and received a grant from the Herb Alpert Foundation that would allow for us to launch, staff, and operate an office based in San Francisco, CA for a period of 12 months. Our West Coast office 'opened for business' on 15 September 2008.

We will spend the majority of 2009 tracking the impact of this office on our grant programs in order to determine its cost-effectiveness throughout 2009, but at present, we are thrilled to be able to offer our donors and applicants living in the Mountain and Pacific Time Zones an office that is staffed by knowledgeable persons who are available to assist them as necessary at times that are more convenient to them.

Reaching out to Social Workers and Small Non-Profit Organizations

When Modest Needs launched in 2002, it was our belief that the vast majority of the applications we would receive would come from individual persons who either had no access to the substantial types of assistance offered to the truly indigent via standing public welfare programs.,/p>

However, particularly in recent years, we have found that more and more persons in Modest Needs' target demographic have learned about the programs and services offered by Modest Needs via social service agencies and their employees. During this same period of time, we've heard from frustrated social workers who had hoped to use our web-based application system to apply for help for their clients, only to discover that our system simply was not designed to accommodate the possibility that a social worker might find Modest Needs to be a viable resource for one or more of his or her clients.

To rectify this situation, in the summer of 2008, Modest Needs updated its software and programming to allow for social workers, first, to register with us, and then to place and manage applications on behalf of their clients, many of whom we discovered had limited access to computers or the Internet and yet easily qualified to apply for one of our standing grant programs.

Our social worker application program is carefully monitored. Social workers wishing to use Modest Needs as a resource for their clients must first complete an application to register with us as a social worker and provide us with documentation to demonstrate that s/he is, in fact, employed as a social worker or in a similar position. Once approved, the social worker must update his or her registration with us annually. This allows us to ensure that only current social workers have access to the special functionality that provide to social workers who wish to use Modest Needs' resources on behalf of their clients.

Simultaneously, in the summer of 2008, Modest Needs launched an innovative program designed to assist smaller non-profit organizations - organizations that have already received their 501 c 3 status and have income of more than $25,000.00 per year, but whose funding needs are not generally large enough to be considered by larger, more conventional funders (major foundations, for example.)

As a result of this program, for the first time ever to our knowledge, non-profit organization of this type will be able to request assistance with the expenses that will allow them to continue or expand their work directly from members of the general public. Generally, non-profit organizations may apply simultaneously for assistance from our donors with up to five expenses of up to $5,000.00

It is too early to gauge the success of these new programs. We will report in 2009 as to their success, but we are encouraged by the truly remarkable applications we've already received under these programs, particularly from participating non-profit organizations.

A Million-Dollar Milestone

In 2008, Modest Needs finally realized a long-standing goal; 2008 was the first year that Modest Needs was able to issue more than $1 million in direct grant funding to the individuals and families who applied for our assistance.

We would never have been able to reach this milestone had it not been for a very generous, eleventh-hour gift from the The Harnisch Foundation, which allowed us, at the very last minute, to make the grants which put Modest Needs 'over the top' of our 2008 million dollar milestone.

We wish to express our heartfelt gratitude to the Harnisch Foundation, our other major funders, and - of course - the individual donors whose contributions power Modest Needs Foundation providing us with the support necessary to reach this remarkable milestone.


All of us at Modest Needs have been genuinely excited by our growth in 2008 and look forward to updating those persons who follow our work on the success of these and other similar initiatives in 2009;

--Dr. Keith P. Taylor, President / Executive Director, Modest Needs Foundation (15 May 2009)

2008 Financial Information at a Glance

Income and Expense Categories Amount
Income from Direct Public Support (Total Income) $2,698,109.00
Program Service Expenses (89.40%) $2,527,016.00
Management / Administrative Expenses (5.90%) $166,773.00
Fundraising Expenses (4.70%) $133,142.00
Total Expenses $2,826,931.00
Revenue over Expenses for FY 2008 $(128,822.00)
Net Assets, Beginning of Year $568,380.00
Net Assets, End of Year $439,558.00

You may view a breakdown of the functional expenses listed above by accessing either our FY 2008 Form 990 or our 2008 Independent Auditor's Report. Links to both in PDF Format are below.

Notes Concerning Administrative, Fundraising, and Employee-Related Expenses in 2008

In 2008, all of Modest Needs' management, fundraising, and employee-related expenses were paid in full by grants made to the organization for this purpose. In keeping with our ongoing operational model.

Thanks to the generosity of our major funders, in 2008, Modest Needs' donors bore none of responsibility for the costs involved in the day-to-day operation of Modest Needs.

Supporting Financial Documents for 2008

Please note: all documents below are in PDF format and can be viewed via the free Adobe Acrobat Reader.

Modest Needs Foundation - Roster of Board of Directors

Current as of 31 December 2008

  • John Arenberg, Chair
  • Dr. Keith P. Taylor, President and Secretary to the Board of Directors
  • Elizabeth Kohen, Vice-Chair / Treasurer
  • Zachary Mannheimer, Board Member
  • Thierry Mellon, Board Member

Would you like a hard copy of our 2008 Annual Report?

If you do not have regular internet access but would like to receive a hard copy of the Annual Report above, along with accompanying materials, please send your request to:

Modest Needs Foundation
115 E 30th St, FL 1
New York NY 10016

Alternatively, you may request a hard copy of this report by calling us at (212) 463-7042, x13 .