i am waiting for the one moment that changes everything.
(This post has been updated with current statistics, additional links / citing as of September 10, 2012.)
Someone posted a blog (again) citing “research” from an online post they found that had incorrect and completely false information about TWLOHA. This information is circling the internet as if it was fact, and current. It isn’t. Two main things not a lot of people know are the definition of nonprofit and how it is applied to an organization’s mission statement.
The definition of nonprofit is: A business organization that serves some public purpose and therefore enjoys special treatment under the law. Nonprofit corporations, contrary to their name, can make a profit but can’t be designed primarily for profit-making. With a nonprofit, any money that’s left after the organization has paid its bills is put back into the organization. Some types of nonprofits can receive contributions that are tax deductible to the individual who contributes to the organization. Keep in mind that nonprofits are organized to provide some benefit to the public.
TWLOHA Mission Statement: To Write Love on Her Arms is a non-profit movement dedicated to presenting hope and finding help for people struggling with depression, addiction, self-injury and suicide. TWLOHA exists to encourage, inform, inspire and also to invest directly into treatment and recovery.
Here’s the truth about TWLOHA:
-When TWLOHA first started (2006) it operated under Fireproof Ministries. Since 2007 TWLOHA has been it’s own 501(c)3 nonprofit organization as recognized by the federal government. Their approval letter can be found on their website. TWLOHA must report all financial transactions (spending, donating, etc) to the IRS every fiscal year.
-Nonprofit does not mean the staff of an organization does not get paid. You can look at several organizations and see that many people on staff make upwards of $250,000 per year. No one at TWLOHA is making that kind of money. In fact, search for nonprofit jobs on a website like http://www.careerbuilder.com and you’ll see many jobs that are posted start out paying an employee at $150,000 a year. Again, no one at TWLOHA is making that kind of money. They they have a staff of about 16. You want to see some large employee salaries? Look at Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s 2011 Parent 990, there you will see individual board members making between $200,000-$400,000 each. Their 28 board members (not regular staff or their entire staff) make $4 million combined alone.
-TWLOHA explains exactly where all of their money goes. There is no missing “75%”. Their financials have been posted for years and can be found at www.twloha.com/finances
-TWLOHA does not donate money to Mercy Ministries and Teen Challenge. Once TWLOHA became aware of the practices being done at these organizations they immediately cut funding to both groups, and ended their association with them because they do not agree with what those organizations were doing. TWLOHA believes everyone has the right to be who they are, and aims to be a place for people to feel welcome and safe, no matter their race, age, sexuality, gender, etc. TWLOHA addresses the MM/TC question in their FAQ section under the “Financial/Donations” section: www.twloha.com/faq. Mercy Survivors has also posted about TWLOHA cutting ties to Mercy Ministries, which can be read here: http://www.mercysurvivors.com/to-write-love-on-her-arms-parts-ways-with-mercy-ministries/
-Currently TWLOHA funds groups such as 1-800-SUICIDE, InTheRooms.com, Minding Your Mind, Suicide Prevention International, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, The Self-Injury Foundation, Solace Counseling, and provides counseling scholarships for low-income persons. They also work closely with The Trevor Project, a hotline specifically for gay/bisexual/transgender/questioning people who are struggling. They are in no way an anti-gay organization. They participated in the “purple” day to honor those who died by suicide because of anti-gay bullying. You can read their “Wear Purple Today” post here: http://www.twloha.com/news.php?nid=180 You can also see their support for the ITGETSBETTER Campaign here: http://www.twloha.com/news.php?nid=178
-TWLOHA has donated over $1,000,000 to treatment and recovery. Many organizations do not donate to other groups because it is not a part of their mission statement. Non-profits (as cited above) must pay their bills then put that money back into the organization. The money put back into the organization is typically spent on things like programs, research, etc. but in accordance with TWLOHA’s mission statement they spend part of the money raised by donating to treatment and recovery.
-TWLOHA or the staff do not “pocket” the money the organization raises. As a nonprofit they must spend the money they raise in accordance with their mission statement. This is done through programs (UChapters, MOVE Community Conference, The Storytellers), awareness, events, and donating to treatment and recovery. Employees of a nonprofit organization can make a salary. This is not illegal. People who work for nonprofits have to have food, shelter, etc. just like everyone else.
-TWLOHA is not a Christian organization. Some of the staff members are Christians, and occasionally their writing reflects that. Jamie the founder of TWLOHA is a Christian and he addresses the “Is TWLOHA a Christian organization?” question, as well as how his faith plays into his life in this interview with Christian Today. Some of the staff is not. They have had interns that are atheists. TWLOHA wants everyone to feel that they can express their beliefs and be who they are, Christian or not. This is addressed in their FAQ under the “General” section: www.twloha.com/faq
-In 2010 alone TWLOHA raised over $125,000 for IMAlive meaning 100% of that money was donated to the program. IMAlive will be the first ever online crisis counseling done over instant messenger that is staffed by people 100% trained and certified in crisis intervention. More info can be found at www.imalive.org
-TWLOHA has responded to over 170,000 messages from 100 countries. They guide people to resources, and keep an updated Find Help section on their website.
-CBS News, NBC Nightly News, The New York Times, Rolling Stone and hundreds of other publications have published information about TWLOHA. These reputable publications do their research so it doesn’t come back to bite them. If TWLOHA was not legitimate they would not have received positive press. If there was a scam or anything illegal these publications would have found it and covered that subject instead of praising the organization.
-A lot of people say “Why t-shirts?” Because TWLOHA is not privately funded (meaning someone donates large sums of money to cover their operating budget) they sell merchandise to raise a majority of the funds needed to cover their expenses, run their programs, and invest in treatment and recovery. They also serve as conversation starters to spread the word about the organization.
I could keep posting more, but I think I covered the most important things. It’s easy for things to become misconstrued and for false information to keep floating around the internet. But these are the facts, and I am more than happy to answer any questions anyone has. It’s really easy for people to see something negative and believe it as fact, because we’re a society that thrives on pulling others down. We want to believe the worst in things, and I don’t understand that. Let’s change the cycle. Let’s start seeing the truth, and spreading positivity. That’s the only way things are going to change.
I’m reposting this because people have been posting a lot of TWLOHA hate again since it’s National Suicide Prevention Week. People, please remember just because it’s on the internet does’t meant it’s true. Do your research, look for facts, FIND OUT FOR YOURSELF. Don’t take my word for it, dig into the information. I provided links to back up all of the information in this post.
Also, please remember, TWLOHA does donate to treatment and recovery, but that is only one part of our mission statement. We focus heavily on awareness and outreach because we MUST change the stigma associated with mental health so we can get better treatment options and to not keep these things in secret. A 30-day inpatient stay often starts around $30,000 and is not covered by most insurances because they do not recognize this as life threatening.