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 2013 and 2014.

Our Mission Statement

At Modest Needs, we work to prevent otherwise self-sufficient but low-income households from entering the cycle of poverty and to strengthen the communities in which these persons live. We do this by offering two specific grant types:

  • The Self-Sufficiency Grant: Our Self-Sufficiency grant is our hallmark grant and helps low income workers to afford short-term emergency expenses that would otherwise pose an enormous burden to the applicant;

  • The Homecoming Heroes Grant: Our Homecoming Heroes grant is designed to assist persons returning home from active military service with short term expenses they may incur as they adjust to civilian life.

Modest Needs in 2013-2014: Honing our Program Services

In late 2012, one of Modest Needs' most significant donors gave Modest Needs a remarkable gift. This person commissioned an impact study designed to measure the effectiveness of Modest Needs' grant programs.

The results of this study, which took the better part of 2013 and 2014 to complete, were eye-opening. This was particularly true because, given that Modest Needs' programs are literally "one of a kind," there had never been an attempt to determine what the short- and long-term impact of "micro-grants" to persons living in nations like the United States.

Phase 1 of the Modest Needs Impact Study was completed in Q2 2014. Among the most important findings were:

  • Generally, our "Back to Work" grant duplicated other programs. Modest Needs' "Back to Work" grant provided small grants for training, "tools of the trade," and other small expenses designed to allow unemployed persons to accept new employment. We believed this program to have been unique, but it turns out that programs of this type are offered to unemployed throughout the US. Because Modest Needs does not have the funding to duplicate solid pre-existing programs, we therefore eliminated this grant program in early 2014.

  • Our "Independent Living Grant" did not generally help persons who received assistance under that program for the long term. Modest Needs' "Independent Living" grant was designed to help persons who were unable to work with short-term emergencies. The results of our impact study showed that these persons lived "on the edge" and in a near-co012 nstant state of financial crisis that couldn't be addressed with a single, small grant; their needs were more appropriately addressed by state / federal agencies. Accordingly, we discontinued this grant program in early 2014.

  • Our income qualifications guidelines were too restrictive. As a result of this impact study, we learned that the income qualification criteria we were using to determine who could apply for a Modest Needs grant often had the effect of "screening out" the very people we most wanted to help. As a result, we dramatically revised the income guidelines for our grantees to ensure that Modest Needs' grants were available to the people who would most benefit from them.

  • In most cases, our maximum of $750.00 was not sufficient to address the real "needs" of our grantees. Many of Modest Needs' best-qualified grantees - the people we really could assist for the long term with a "relatively" Modest Needs - needed a little more than the $750.00 maximum grant we allowed under our longest-standing programs.

    To address this issue, we adjusted how our system calculates the maximum grant for which an applicant may apply to take the applicant's income into account. In this manner, we are now able to offer maximum grants more commensurate with Modest Needs' mission to the persons who need our help the most. This makes for grants that are occasionally more expensive but DRAMATICALLY more impactful than our prior grants had been to the persons who'd received them.

As a result of these critical changes to our grant programs, we are confident that the grants we make at Modest Needs now are serving precisely the purpose for which they were intended: as a result of our grants, a hard-working individual or family is able to overcome the burden of a short-term financial emergency while remaining productively self-sufficient.

Tracking Our Impact

In 2013 and 2014, the non-profit "buzz-word" was undoubtedly "impact." As the organizations that evaluate non-profit organizations finally have realized, evaluating an organization's performance based on, say, how much the organization spends on programs vs. management and fundraising doesn't tell us anything about the most important measurement of a non-profit organization's performance: its impact.

On this front, Modest Needs is way ahead of the curve. In early 2014, we began the process of creating an "impact tracker" which would require our funded applicants to report back to us over six, twelve, eighteen, and twenty-four month intervals with data concerning, for example, the household's income.

By tracking whether the household income remains stable and / or whether income to the household increases, we are better able to gauge the effectiveness of our grants and provide accurate reports to Modest Needs' donors regarding the return on their investment in the lives of the people who turn to us for help.

Development on this element of Modest Needs continues (this is a complex process), and we hope to launch this new, unique feature of MN in time for the holidays in 2016.

New Ways of Reaching Out

In 2013 and 2014, Modest Needs began the process of extending our services to other types of institutions who might need our help - small businesses that want to help their employees through short-term crises, for example.

To that end, in early 2013, Modest Needs entered into its first ever partnership of this kind with Bell Lumber and Pole, a terrific company with a heart for service that desperately wanted to help its employees through short-term crises but had little experience vetting their employees' requests for help.

Though this partnership, Modest Needs has agreed to accept and vet applications from Bell Lumber and Pole employees while maintaining a pool of funding for these employees, all of which is donated by either the company itself or that company's CEO. Modest Needs earns a "modest" 10% of whatever funding Bell Lumber and Pole allocates for this purpose, which we then use to assist more of our own applicants.

This "experimental" partnership, which now has been in place for over three years, has proven extraordinarily beneficial for Bell Lumber & Pole, its employees, and Modest Needs. And now that we've had some experience managing funds of this kind, we expect to branch out to offer similar services to like-minded small companies while exploring additional ways we might be able to utilize our expertise on behalf of small businesses / other types of institutions who want to assist their constituents but who aren't quite sure how best to do so.

In this way, it's our hope that we will be able to create a new revenue stream for Modest Needs - this translates into additional funding for our applicants - while simultaneously helping those institutions that want to offer short-term, emergency assistance to their constituents but lack the technology to do so effectively.

In Closing - Another Personal Note and a Public Memorial

Last year, I apologized for it having taken so long for Modest Needs to update its annual report with information related to our activities in 2011 and 2012. At that time, I promised that further annual reports would be published on time - a promise that I obviously did not keep, given the date of this annual report.

But it's critically important to me that you - those who support us - understand the reason for this delay.

In 2010, my mother was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins Lymphoma. She fought bravely through two rounds of extremely painful chemotherapy that prolonged her life for a precious few years. But finally, at the beginning of 2015 - about the time I should've been writing this report - it became clear that my mother was no longer in remission and had only a short time to live.

I saw my mother, who spent the final years of her life living in Ecuador, for the last time in June of 2015. Just six weeks later, on July 25, 2015, my mother succumbed to the cancer that had ravaged her body. I spent the remainder of 2015 and the first half of 2016 ensuring that my father, who has early-stage Alzheimer's, was comfortable in his new home (he lives happily with my sister) while working through the indescribable grief of losing someone who was not just my mother, and not just my best friend, but Modest Needs' greatest champion.

All of this is to say that the past few years have been very difficult for me personally, and during this trying time, I have occasionally fallen behind on this work. My hope is that, in telling you - our donors - why these reports have been later coming than I would've preferred, you will forgive these delays and stand with me as I continue to work through this very difficult loss.

My hope is that we'll have our 2015 annual report available on the Modest Needs website by the beginning of Q4 2016, and that we'll be "on time" with our annual reports thereafter. Meanwhile, though, I'd like to thank you, as always, for your kindness, your generosity, and your ongoing support of this very important work to which I am now more committed than ever.

--Dr. Keith P. Taylor, President / Executive Director, Modest Needs Foundation (2 June 2016)

2013 Financial Information at a Glance

Income and Expense Categories Amount
Income from Direct Public Support $1,746,796.00
Other Program Service Income $0.00
Other Income $0.00
Total 2013 Income $1,746,796.00
Program Service Expenses (90.21%) $2,366,606.00
Management / Administrative Expenses (3.75%) $98,421.00
Fundraising Expenses (6.03%) $158,313.00
Total 2013 Expenses $2,623,340.00
Net Assets & Fund Balances, Beginning of Year $1,601,801.00
Net Assets & Fund Balances, End of Year $792,204.00

You may view a breakdown of the functional expenses listed above by accessing either our FY 2013 Form 990 or our 2013 Independent Auditor's Report. Links to both in PDF Format are below.

Notes Concerning CEO Salary for 2013

Modest Needs has a strict policy limiting the salary that can be earned by the organization's CEO. In 2013, the salary of the CEO appeared to exceed these limits because in that year, the CEO was reimbursed by the organization's board of directors for multiple expenses that Modest Needs CEO had personally paid on behalf of the organization over a period of several years when, because of the national recession, the organization was not in the position to remit payment of these expenses without assistance. These expenses in question totaled $119,683.00.

Therefore, in 2013, the salary of Modest Needs' CEO is shown as $291,183, broken down as follows:

  • Actual Salary: $171,500.00 - the exact median salary of persons holding the position of CEO in similarly sized organizations per Charity Navigator; and

  • Reimbursement for expenses paid on behalf of Modest Needs by its CEO: $119,683.00. Per GAAP, this reimbursement was reported as "salary," even though these sums were, in fact, reimbursement for company expenses incurred by the organization but paid by its CEO in times of short-term, financial crises.

We feel it is critical for Modest Needs' donors and members of the general public to understand that the very large salary shown on Modest Needs FY 2013 Form 990 is not indicative of the salary of Modest Needs' CEO or Modest Needs' compensation policies.

Supporting Financial Documents for 2013

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

2014 Financial Information at a Glance

Income and Expense Categories Amount
Income from Direct Public Support $1,803,309.00
Other Program Service Income $0.00
Other Income $1,126.00
Total 2014 Income $1,804,435.00
Program Service Expenses (87.59%) $1,786,070.00
Management / Administrative Expenses (6.56%) $133,708.00
Fundraising Expenses (5.85%) $119,233.00
Total 2014 Expenses $2,039,011.00
Net Assets & Fund Balances, Beginning of Year $792,204.00
Net Assets & Fund Balances, End of Year $468,617.00

You may view a breakdown of the functional expenses listed above by accessing either our FY 2014 Form 990 or our 2014 Independent Auditor's Report. A link to our 2014 Form 990 is below. Our 2014 audited financials will be provided shortly.

Supporting Financial Documents for 2014

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

  • View our 2014 Form 990 (Warning: Large File - May Take Time to Download)
  • View our 2014 Independent Auditor's Report (Coming Shortly)

2014 CEO Salary

Please note that as of 2014, the salary of Modest Needs' CEO is shown as $171.500, the exact median of salaries paid to persons overseeing the operations of similarly-sized organizations operating within the Northeast. Per Modest Needs' Board of Directors, Modest Needs' CEO salary is frozen at this level through December 31, 2019.

Donor Privacy Policy

Modest Needs has long maintained a strict Donor Privacy Policy. However, because this policy is listed within our Terms of Use and sometimes is missed by our donors, we include it in our Annual Reports for their reference:

Modest Needs maintains a strict policy with regard to the privacy and security of our donors. Modest Needs respects the privacy of our donors. To that end, Modest Needs will not sell, rent, loan, give away, or otherwise disseminate the personal information of our donors, including their names, mailing addresses, email addresses, contribution amounts, or any other data of any kind to any entity for any reason whatsoever. Persons who choose to contribute to Modest Needs may rest secure that their data will never be shared with any other entity under any circumstances, ever.

Modest Needs Board of Directors

Current as of 1 June 2016

  • Rosa Ng, Chair (Independent, Voting)

  • Maria Castillo, Vice President (Independent, Voting)

  • Laura Sauceda, Secretary (Independent, Voting)

  • Thierry Mellon, Board Member (Independent, Voting)

  • Keith Taylor, Board Member (Voting)

Modest Needs Key Employees

  • Dr. Keith P. Taylor, President

  • Megan Boyle, Esq, COO

  • Alexandra Leff, Director of Programs

  • Alex Chan, CTO

Would you like a hard copy of our finalized 2013-2014 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
120 E 23 St, FL 5
New York NY 10010

We will provide a hard-copy of our 2013 - 2014 annual report along with all attachments to anyone who requests them at no charge.

Alternatively, you may request a hard copy of this report by calling Megan Boyle, COO, at (844) 667-3776, ext 2.