A North Mississippi Domestic Violence Prevention Non-Profit Shuts DownBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 26 Jul 2011 04:11pm |
The recent closure of a north Mississippi non-profit raises new challenges for non-profit organizations around the state. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the state pays close attention to non-profits to ensure that they are meeting their promises.
The Domestic Violence Project shut down this week after years of questions by the Secretary of State's office about how the agency was spending its money.
Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman says the state audits dozens of non-profits every year to check out how they are spending their charitable donations.
"They all have to file with the Secretary of State. In those we find probably a high 90-percentile are fine and doing no problems. It is the other ones like this that put a black mark on all the rest of the charities in Mississippi," Hoseman said.
Hoseman says the audits and investigations....some random and some started by complaints....lead to the closure of six or seven non-profits a year, and sometimes more following disasters like Hurricane Katrina.
Mississippi is one of the most charitable states in the nation on a per capita basis and Sandy Middleton with the non-profit Center for Violence Prevention says building faith in a non-profit requires a community connection.
"Non-profits belong to the communities and to the clients they serve. So it is very important that have that transparency so that the people in the community can see where their money is going," Middleton said.
Non-profits play a crucial role in Mississippi, providing help and resources where corporations and governments cannot.
Still, Middleton says non-profits can sometimes run into money troubles because of a lack of focus on the business side of the equation.
"They may have the heart for the mission, but they might not have the tools that they need in order to be a good manager of the money and the financial resources that have been provided for the organization," Middleton said.
In the case of the Domestic Violence Project, the Secretary of State's office says the non-profit was 150-thousand dollars behind on its federal taxes.
Leadership of the Domestic Violence Project could not be reached for comment on the decision to close the shelter.
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