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What is Pennsylvania State University THON?Where Does the Money Go? Spotlight PA State College

This story was created by Spotlight PA’s State College Area Departmentis an independent, nonpartisan newsroom dedicated to investigative and public service journalism in Pennsylvania. Sign up for our local newsletter, Talk of the Town.

State University — For years, thousands of Pennsylvania State University students have taken part in tough charity work, standing, dancing and cheering for 46 hours to raise funds for children with cancer and their families. I have participated.

Taking place this weekend and supported by celebrities like Khloe Kardashian, the dance marathon is the culmination of a year-long effort by THON, a student organization that raises donations from Pennsylvania and across the United States.

The money raised by the students will be donated to Four Diamonds, a charity within the Penn State University system.

And while THON promotes the interests of children and their families, Four Diamonds uses most of its funding for research and related endowments.

four diamonds criticized in the past We started disclosing additional information citing a lack of financial transparency. However, other parts of how organizations operate are still difficult to understand.

Four Diamonds funds the Pennsylvania State University fund, but few details have been made public about how it is managed. Gil Pak, director of operations for the Penn State Health Children’s Hospital Department of Pediatrics, told Spotlight PA that the donation he is valued at $110 million.

In 2020, “discriminatory practicesTHON has promised to release demographic information about who the charity supports.

Four Diamonds does not file the 990 tax form because it is organized under the school. That means you don’t have to disclose your top employees’ salaries, total assets, liabilities, governance, and other information that would normally help the public understand how their money is being spent.

Pennsylvania State University is less transparent than other public universities due to special exemptions granted by the Pennsylvania Public Records Act.

Todd Ealy, an associate professor at the University of Colorado, Denver who studies nonprofit financial management, told Spotlight PA that housing charities within public institutions like universities is paradigmatic for public transparency. He said it could complicate difficult choices.

“This allows us to step up to the organization itself and provide enough information so that donors have a clear picture of both how much money has been raised, but also how those funds are being used. It creates a little bit of responsibility to make sure that we are providing

Before the THON dancers stood all weekend, Spotlight PA sought to reveal the Four Diamonds’ ties to the university. A day before a scheduled interview with Spotlight PA, Four Diamonds and his THON leader canceled due to “schedule changes” and requested that questions be sent in writing. (You can read their full answer here.)

Spotlight PA analyzed Four Diamonds spending over the past 14 fiscal years, spoke with experts who study philanthropic finance, and sought information about how Four Diamonds and THON operate. Here’s what you should know:

What is the relationship between Penn State, THON and Four Diamonds?

Penn State students raise funds throughout the year for THON, which culminates in a 46-hour dance marathon held at the Bryce Jordan Center. During the event, THON will announce the amount raised for the Four Diamonds. THON has stated that it is the sole beneficiary of that effort.

Last year, the group raised $14.5 million. financial statements on the websiteDonations made to THON are sent through the Pennsylvania State University Development Agency. No student-run organization pays wages or fees to the university or its employees to process these gifts, the group said in a statement to Spotlight PA.

Penn State also processes donations sent directly to Four Diamonds and oversees Four Diamonds’ finances.

What financial records are available for Four Diamond?

Most charities file a 990 tax return. The declaration provides detailed information on top employee salaries, total assets, liabilities, contractor utilization and donations.

Four Diamonds and THON self-report their financials annually. Four Diamonds often divides this information into four categories: Administrative Expenses, Patient and Family Assistance, Research, and Donations.

Four Diamonds does not disclose the list of donors. The charity’s executive director, Suzanne Graney, told her Spotlight PA that university policy prohibits “the sale, rental, or other public distribution of donor information.” But with the donor’s permission, some donors are listed on the children’s hospital’s donor wall, she said.

In a statement to Spotlight PA, Pak said Four Diamonds is included in annual financial audits conducted by Penn State and Penn State Health. The audit is a broad financial overview and contains few details of individual programs such as Four Diamonds.

The CEO of Penn State Health and dean of Penn State College of Medicine have fiduciary and decision-making powers over Four Diamonds, Pak said.

Four Diamond has an advisory board made up of donor and family representatives, but the board has no decision-making authority, Graney told Spotlight PA.

Who is Four Diamonds helping?

To be eligible for assistance from Four Diamonds, children must live in Pennsylvania, be undergoing cancer treatment at the Pennsylvania State Health and Children’s Hospital, and be under the age of 22, Graney said. said. Families do not have to fall below certain income thresholds to receive funds. The charity has released information about the Pennsylvania county where the children live.

2020 Tone Committed to greater transparency As part of our efforts to improve equity, on “THON-Supported Families and Research Demographics.”Such information may be used by subsequent transparency report from tone.

Four Diamond does not track patient information, but children’s hospitals can provide Four Diamond with de-identified data as part of research requests, Park said. released information about major counties of residence and declined to comment on why it does not release other demographic information.

In a statement to Spotlight PA, THON stated that its leadership “is working with partners Four Diamonds and Penn State Health Children’s Hospital in the hope that they will share broader demographic information about the families THON supports.” We are in touch,” he said.

How does Four Diamonds spend money?

From 2013 to 2022, Four Diamonds reported that 85-95 cents of every dollar donated went to support its mission.

Spotlight PA analyzed Four Diamonds’ spending since fiscal year 2009 using Impact Reports on Four Diamonds’ website, previous reports archived in the Internet Archive, and information provided by Four Diamonds.

During that time, Four Diamonds spent $239.4 million. Spotlight PA’s analysis did not include money that Four Diamonds marked as annual reserves or emergency savings. The organization reported him twice in the spending category during the period studied.

Of that $239.4 million, about 9% ($21.2 million) was spent on administrative expenses. About 19% ($44.5 million) went to patients and families. About 33% ($80.4 million) was spent on research. About 39% ($93.2 million) was donated to the fund.

“Thanks to the generosity of our community, the results of our fundraising have steadily increased year after year, with Four Diamonds covering the costs of all patients and funding researchers’ research to find cures. We can now search,” says Graney.

Spotlight PA asked how Four Diamonds decides how much money to spend on long-term investments, such as endowments, and short-term investments, such as funding a family.

Park said the organization is following funding priorities. Secure patient care without receiving bills, maintain access to non-medical resources, and fund research.

Granny added, “The majority of gifts to Four Diamonds are unlimited gifts and are subject to a written policy regarding an annual allocation process to maximize the use of these gifts.”

How does Four Diamond fund the Foundation?

An endowment is an asset, usually money, invested by an organization to use the proceeds from that investment for a specific purpose. Organizations with endowments, especially outside of higher education, are relatively rare, according to Professor Ealy, who studies non-profit financial management.

Four Diamonds provides funding to the Department of Pediatrics of the Pennsylvania Department of Health.

Park said the fund is valued at $110 million and the dean of the medical school will make spending decisions. These investments generated $5.1 million in revenue for him in fiscal 2022 and provided additional funding for Four Diamonds, Pak said.

The reported value of donations has more than doubled since the launch of Four Diamonds in 2014. told PennLive They were worth about $45 million.

Park said Penn State University will control and make investment decisions regarding the fund. Pediatrics has one associate endowment, which is designated to allow the funds to be used for other purposes. In 2016, Four Diamond replaced its annual reserve fund with a semi-endowment fund, generating additional operating funds and acting as a “financial safety net,” Park said.

The remaining funds are permanent restricted funds, funds that must be used in a specified manner, Park said. Medical college deans determine the spending of these funds, Park said.

Four Diamonds did not respond to questions regarding the number, individual values ​​or names of the Spotlight PA-funded funds. Grainy directed Spotlight PA: A report by the Pennsylvania Office of Investment Managementbut such reports only report total figures for all Penn State endowments. latest annual reportthe organization did not specify the type of donation funded as before, instead labeling the $2.1 million investment as “donor limited.”

Based on Spotlight PA’s analysis, charities have funded at least eight funds since fiscal 2009, including epigenetics (the study of how environmental factors affect genes). including nearly $22 million in endowments to the Biological Continuum) and similar amounts. “Experimental Therapies” Fund. Four Diamond’s impact report says the Experimental Fund helped recruit medical scientists to the research team.

THON will take place February 17-19 at the Bryce Jordan Center.

support this journalism Help energize local news in north central Pennsylvania. spotlightpa.org/statecollegeThe spotlight PA is foundation and readers like you Those working in public service journalism with accountability and results.

https://www.spotlightpa.org/statecollege/2023/02/penn-state-thon-four-diamonds-money/ What is Pennsylvania State University THON?Where Does the Money Go? Spotlight PA State College

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