Your note was a beautiful surprise and made my day, and also made me want to share a couple of reasons why I wanted to be a partner in your work and mission:
For decades I supported a Native American project in New Mexico which seems to do good work. Then I attended a couple of seminars on philanthropy and got an education on what I should have looked for years ago. I had never looked into the project's financial practices or what percentage of their income went to the project versus administration, how many Native Americans were on their staff, and what they were doing to permanently improve the lives of their people, i.e. giving fish versus teaching to fish. I asked for a copy of their Annual Report and was told it would be sent, but never received it. I asked for a copy of their 2013 financial report and was told it would be sent, but never received it. I wrote a note saying I would no longer be supporting them because of their lack of transparency and response.
I understand, respect and appreciate the desire of Native Americans to retain their land, spirituality, culture, language, skills and knowledge of their ancestry and history in this land. There is so much that can be learned from each unique Nation; I celebrate your wealth of assets, and the strength of a people who have excelled in government, finance (like you), craftsmanship, sciences, entertainment, journalism, etc., striving and overcoming so much.
Starting to look for a Native American organization to partner with, I found that First Nations Development Institute stood out above all others. Charity Navigator and your extensive website consolidated everything I wanted to know. When I first made a contribution, I didn't even ask for an annual report and the 2014 issue was sent to me. Responses from your staff have been warm, welcoming, educational, and have made me feel a part of something truly unique - a place where I feel confident that any contribution I can make will make a difference.
‘Gunalcheesh’ for all that you have done through your many years there, Mike; your dedication, communications and financial skills, but more than that, your character and leadership at the helm of First Nations and Oweestra are tremendous assets.
I am your friend and partner in the journey forward."
- First Nations Donor