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Q: What is the purpose of Foundation Beyond Belief?
A: To focus, encourage, and demonstrate the generosity and compassion of secular humanists in the interest of a better world. Of these, our primary purpose is to encourage each other to embody the highest principles of humanism, including mutual care and responsibility.
Read on for more...
Q: How does the charitable giving program work?
The Foundation highlights five charities per quarter--one in each of five areas (Poverty & Health, Education, Human Rights, The Natural World, and Challenge the Gap (other worldviews). Members join the Foundation by signing up for an automatic monthly donation in the amount of their choice, then indicate how they would like it distributed among the five categories. At the end of each quarter, all donations are forwarded to the beneficiaries and a new slate is featured. Though members may choose to distribute a portion to FBB itself if they wish, the Foundation retains no portion of the donations designated for our featured charities.
Q: What are the criteria for selecting a beneficiary?
Among other considerations, beneficiaries are chosen for efficiency, effectiveness, moderate size, compatibility with humanist focus on mutual care in this world and this life, and geographic diversity. Beneficiaries must work for the common good -- not advocate for, defend, or promote any single worldview, even our own. Organizations with annual expenditures under $50 million are preferred, with preference given to those with budgets under $10 million. In addition to direct research, FBB makes use of Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau, GiveWell, GuideStar, and other third-party sources of information and charity review. Beneficiaries in four of our five categories are strictly secular, while a fifth category called Challenge the Gap gives those members so inclined the option to support a non-proselytizing, progressive religious charity working for the common good.
Q: What is the process for selecting beneficiaries?
During the last month of each quarter, the Board of Directors selects the final slate for the next quarter from the list of nominations submitted on our website. The slate is then given a final review by Foundation members on our Charity Research Teams. In addition to the criteria above, formal and informal member input is among the most important considerations in this process.
Q: What are the channels for member input?
In addition to nominating charities, members are encouraged to join the FBB Charity Research Forum on Facebook. This private forum replaced the charity discussion forum on the FBB site as a result of input from our member survey in October 2011. Nominees that are considered especially promising by the FBB staff are posted on the Facebook forum for member input.
Q: What if I don't like one of the beneficiaries you select?
That will certainly happen from time to time, which is why members can change their donation distribution at any time. Suppose you have 50 percent of your distribution in Human Rights, then one quarter we choose an organization you do not wish to support. Simply go into your Account and move your 50 percent to another category.
Q: Why hasn't my favorite freethought organization been featured?
FBB was created for a different purpose -- to give atheists and humanists a collective presence in philanthropic giving for the general good, outside of our own community. Beneficiaries can have a specifically humanist/atheist identity so long as their programs serve the general good, not just those in our own worldview.
It's also crucial for freethinkers to support our own organizations, of course, and we host a freethought donation gateway page to make that easy. Those donations are outside of our regular automatic monthly giving program, but most are still tax deductible.
Q: How can I submit an organization for consideration?
Click on Nominate a Charity.
Q: Why is the Foundation necessary? Can't I just donate directly to these charities?
Of course you can. But if you are a humanist, and the idea of working together with other humanists to make the world a better place as a direct expression of what you believe is appealing and inspiring to you, and you'd like to be a part of articulating the collective humanist voice in the world of philanthropy...well, that's what we're here for. Pull up a membership and let's get started.
Q: Why aren't you listed on Charity Navigator?
For a very sensible reason: There are more charities than CN can possibly review effectively, so they require that an organization have a minimum of $1 million in annual revenue to be included. We hope to reach that criterion by 2015. Meanwhile, our Financial Information page includes our 990s and other helpful information.
Q: Are donations tax-deductible?
Yes, in the United States. We are a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization in good standing with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Q: What about Canada, Australia, etc?
To register as an eligible charity in Canada, FBB would have to show a physical presence there or show that a substantial part of our programmatic expenditure is in Canada, neither of which is likely soon. Two exceptions:
Obstacles similar to the Canadian restrictions appear (quite sensibly) to be in place in Australia and the UK.
UPDATE: Plans are currently underway to establish affiliates of FBB in Australia and Canada. For more information or to join the mailing list for FBB Australia, visit the FBB Australia page! Stay tuned for a similar page for Canada.
Q: I keep seeing references to automatic monthly donations. Can't I make a one-time donation?
We will always gratefully receive one-time donations to the Foundation itself (click on One-Time Donation), and individuals can go directly to our featured charities if they wish to make one-time donations to them, but a regular monthly donation is required for membership.
Q: Why is that?
The Foundation exists for a very specific purpose -- not just collecting money for causes, but helping to create a systematic culture of giving among atheists and humanists. That's why actual Foundation membership requires a regular monthly commitment in the amount of your choice -- even $5 a month will do -- to build that culture of regular giving. We are also building an ongoing conversation around best practices for humanist philanthropy, and that requires an ongoing, connected community.
All of our accounts are currently processed through PayPal. Simply log into your PayPal account and click Profile > My money > My pre-approved payments. Cancel your previous order, then return to your FBB account to purchase a new plan.
Q: How do I cancel my monthly donations?
This is done through your PayPal account in either of two ways:
Q: I don't like PayPal. Is there another way to create a regular account?
If your bank has an automatic Bill Pay function, you can set up a monthly payment in the amount of your choice to Foundation Beyond Belief, Inc., 4575 Webb Bridge Rd #5992, Alpharetta GA 30005. Once you've set up the automatic payment, let us know. We'll create your account and send you the logins so you can distribute your donation. (NOTE: Beginning in July 2013 with the launch of our new website, we will offer a wider range of payment options.)
Q: Why do you opt for "humanist" instead of "atheist" in the mission statement and elsewhere?
The two terms emphasize different aspects of the same nontheistic worldview. Atheism is simply the absence of belief in a god or gods. Secular humanism describes the philosophy, ethics, and values that flow from this view. Since the Foundation is an expression of those values, "humanist" and "secular humanist" are primarily used.
Q: What are the worldviews of your board members?
The Board of Directors consists entirely of atheists and humanists.
Q: If you include a category for religious charities, how is this a "Foundation BEYOND BELIEF"?
"Beyond Belief" refers to our humanist and atheist members -- the generous givers in the equation. Some of those members choose to support only secular charities, while others feel there is value in demonstrating humanistic generosity across lines of belief. So long as a large portion of our membership wants the latter option, we will keep it in place. And thanks to our donation distribution system, each member can tailor his or her donations precisely, and no member is bound by someone else's definition of humanist giving. It's freethought in action, and we wouldn't have it any other way.
Q: If all of the donations go to the beneficiaries, how is the Foundation funded?
A: Through grants and direct donations to the Foundation itself. Members may also choose to allocate some portion of their monthly donation to the Foundation in their distribution panel if they wish.
Q: How does the Foundation provide financial transparency and accountability?
A: During the first year of incorporation, the Foundation worked with The Foundation Group, a 501(c)(3) consultancy, to ensure that sound financial practices were established. Since January 2011 we have contracted with North Georgia Accounting Consultants to prepare monthly financial reports and to conduct annual reviews. All compensation and expenditures are set according to established best practices for non-profits, and regular financial disclosures are posted on the website.
Financial information, including IRS Forms 990, is available on our Financial page.
Q: Can I name the Foundation as a beneficiary in my will or trust?
A: We'd certainly prefer that you live forever. Barring that, our Planned Giving page can help you with the simple language necessary to provide that generous support.
Q: Is the Foundation staff compensated?
A: Our staff includes compensated part-time employees and several volunteers. We also have an unpaid Board of Directors. All staff compensation is funded through grants and discretionary donations only, never from donations to our beneficiaries. All compensation is set well within non-profit norms.
Q: Are you hiring staff/looking for volunteers?
A: The Foundation has several part-time staff positions, as well as several volunteer opportunities, including internships. Watch the Job/Volunteer Listings page.
Q: Why didn't you answer my other question?
A: Send it here. We'll update this FAQ as needed.