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On October 14, 2011, Annie issued a report on FIRST with a "BUY" rating.

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  1. 1. NONPROFIT INVESTORINDEPENDENT RESEARCH FOR PHILANTHROPYFIRST SUMMARYFor Inspiration and Recognition of Science Founded in 1989, FIRST is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that helpsand Technology young people discover and develop a passion for science, engineering, technology and math through its innovative, progressive programs.Nonprofit Investor Rating: STRENGTHSBUY Participants gain valuable skills through hands-on experience. With an annual budget of over $30MM, FIRST offers four main programs to youngMission Statement people from ages 6 to 18. Students not only learn engineering andInspire young people to be science and programming concepts but also gain important business skills such astechnology leaders, by engaging them in creating a business plan, developing a budget, forming a company,exciting mentor-based programs that build marketing a product, raising funds, and obtaining, engineering and technology skills, thatinspire innovation, and that foster well- Extensive base of supporters provide diverse sources of funding. In 2010,rounded life capabilities including self- over 90,000 mentors, coaches, and volunteers contributed a total of $6confidence, communication, and leadership million hours to FIRST. Mentors and coaches are often professional engineers. Additionally, the organization is supported by a network ofFinancial Overview 3,500+ sponsors including corporations, foundations, and educational and$ in MM (except # of volunteers and participants) professional institutions. For the 2010/2011 season, 145+ sponsors madeFiscal Year Ended June 30, available nearly $15 million in college scholarships to 925+ students. 2008 2009 2010Revenue and Support $31.9 $34.7 $35.0 CAUTIONSOperating Expenses $30.7 $34.2 $32.9 Higher management and general expenses may signal reduced operational efficiency. In 2010, while total operating expenses decreased by 4% from% of Total *: prior year due to lower program expenses, management and general Program Expenses 87.6% 89.3% 87.3% expenses (incl. G&A and fundraising) increased by 15%. This shift toward G&A 9.7% 8.5% 9.9% higher management and general expenses raises questions about the Fundraising 2.7% 2.2% 2.8% organization’s overall operational efficiency. Furthermore, the organization had 8 key employees making over $100,000 annually with its PresidentVolunteers & Mentors 73,000 85,000 90,000Participants 160,000 196,000 212,000 recorded a salary of $229,000 in 2009/2010 (not including $148,418 in non-*Expense breakdown based on information in Form 990 fixed compensation). The salaries of these 8 employees (out of 94 total employees) accounted for 35% of the total G&A expenses in 2010.Contact Details RECOMMENDATION: BUYFirst200 Bedford St. We believe FIRST has been successful in meeting its goals of helping youngManchester, NH 03101 people develop interests in science, technology, engineering, and math(603) 666-3906 / (800) 871-8326 through its engaging and educational robotic programs. These programs have made positive impacts on the participating students, schools, teachers,EIN: 22-2990908 and mentors. Satisfaction with FIRST programs has been consistently rated highly among participants. As the programs continue to expand, weAnalyst recommend a reduction in registration fees which would help theAnnie Lee organization reach more students, particular in underserved communities.Publication DateOctober 14, 2011 Nonprofit
  2. 2. OVERVIEW OF FIRSTFounded in 1989, FIRST is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization that helps young people discover and develop a passionfor science, engineering, technology and math through its innovative, progressive programs. For the 2010/2011 season,over 250,000 students from 50 states across the US and from more than 50 countries have participated in theorganization’s programs.FINANCIAL OVERVIEWFIRST appears to have healthy cash reserves and good financial security. Because the programs are not self-sustainable,the organization depends largely on grants and contributions to fund these programs. FIRST has a diverse and supportivedonor base, with total contributions not influenced by any particular individual donor.Revenue. While FIRST had seen significant growth in revenue from 2007 to 2008, the rate of growth had slowed down in2009 and 2010. In 2010, revenue stayed relative flat with a 1% increase from prior year. It appears that the sluggishrevenue growth is primarily due to decline in contributions. A closer look at the pledges and nonfederal grantsreceivable account reveals that lower contributions could be caused by unpaid pledges, perhaps as a result of theadverse economic condition in 2009 and 2010.Expense. Program expenses were 87% of total operating expenses in 2010 versus 89% previously. G&A expensesincreased from 9% to 10% of total operating expenses. Fundraising expenses increased from 2% to 3% of total operatingexpenses. Fiscal Year Ended June 30 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 Revenue and other support: Program registration fees $ 11,066,236 $ 12,763,146 $ 14,461,818 $ 15,535,666 $ 14,843,617 Contributions/grants/sponsorship 7,686,794 9,827,940 15,143,000 16,315,420 14,976,448 Net asset released from restrictions 999,843 781,277 1,321,005 2,231,912 4,347,633 Other 1,050,648 1,173,033 1,011,934 603,989 804,452 Total revenue and other support $ 20,803,521 $ 24,545,396 $ 31,937,757 $ 34,686,987 $ 34,972,150 Operating expenses: Program expenses $ 16,006,344 $ 19,857,107 $ 26,957,672 $ 30,289,600 $ 28,369,788 Robotics Competition 14,023,526 17,015,186 22,841,964 25,259,844 23,313,034 LEGO League 1,271,223 1,894,727 3,025,709 3,714,529 3,835,473 Tech Challenge 634,510 854,916 1,004,250 1,169,372 1,132,089 FIRST Place 77,085 92,278 85,749 145,855 89,192 Management expense 2,676,235 3,078,237 3,273,371 3,382,414 3,893,127 Other 698,862 745,083 442,519 508,708 598,320 Total operating exp enses $ 19,381,441 $ 23,680,427 $ 30,673,562 $ 34,180,722 $ 32,861,235 Change in unrestricted net assets: Operating surplus/(deficit) $ 1,422,080 $ 864,969 $ 1,264,195 $ 506,265 $ 2,110,915 Refundable advances - amortization 140,200 319,969 319,969 319,968 - Net assets released from restriction for purchase of PP&E 12,839 17,460 - - - Change in unrestricted net assets $ 1,575,119 $ 1,202,398 $ 1,584,164 $ 826,233 $ 2,110,915 Unrestricted net assets 7,477,340 8,679,738 10,263,902 11,090,135 13,201,050 Total net assets 8,720,782 10,210,605 14,834,301 19,318,283 24,412,729 Revenue yoy growth 18% 30% 9% 1% Expenses yoy growth 22% 30% 11% -4% Participants 130,000 160,000 196,000 212,000 Expenses per Participant $ 182.16 $ 191.71 $ 174.39 $ 155.01 Source: 2006 through 2010 annual reports Books for Africa | Nonprofit Investor Research 2
  3. 3. RESULTS AND TRANSPARENCYFIRST provides detailed financial information through its annual reports (from 2003 through 2011) and Form 990s.Financial statements for fiscal year 2010 and 2011 are audited by an independent auditor. FIRST also provides resultsand impact of its programs through independent studies conducted by Brandeis University’s Center for Youth andCommunities.According to this study, FIRST alumni attended college at a rate substantially higher than the national average forgraduated high school students. When compared to a peer group of non-FIRST participants with similar demographicand academic experiences, FIRST alumni were much more likely to major in science or engineering, have an internship intheir freshman year, achieve a postgraduate degree, and pursue a career in science, technology or engineering. Thechart below illustrates some of the positive education and career outcomes associated with participation in FIRSTprograms based on the comparison group analysis. 100% 88% FIRST Robotics Competition Alumni 90% Matched Comparison Group 80% 77% 69% 71% 70% % of Surveyed Students 60% 55% 53% 50% 45% 41% 40% 31% 30% 28% 27% 30% 20% 20% 13% 8% 10% 3% 0% Attend college Achieve a post- Major in science Major Internship/Co- Pursue science Pursue career Perform full-time graduate degree or engineering specfically in op job during or technology- speficially in community engineering freshman year related career engineering service Source: “An Evaluation of the FIRST Robotics Competition Participant and Institutional Impacts” by Center for Youth and Communities at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management of Brandeis UniversityGROWTHFIRST’s largest and oldest program, FIRST Robotics Competition (> 80% of total program expenses) had grown from 28teams at its inception in 1992 to 2,075 teams in 2011, reaching over 52,000 high school students in the past year alone.FIRST’s newest program, FIRST Tech Challenge, had 1,607 teams participating in 2010, a 45% increase from prior year.FIRST’s program for its younger participants, FIRST LEGO League, expanded to 19,000+ teams in 50+ countries in 2010.NPI RECOMMENDATION VS. CHARITY NAVIGATORFIRST has been consistently rated four-stars (out of a total of four-stars) for the past four years by Charity Navigator,placing the organization in the top 7% of all charities evaluated by Charity Navigator.ADDITIONAL DILIGENCE AREASFIRST has recently released its audited financial reports for fiscal year ending in June 2011. This new information willprovide an updated view of how FIRST programs have grown over the past year.GET INVOLVEDTo donate:; To volunteer: does not have any affiliation with FIRST and has never made a donation to FIRST. All information presented in thisreport is sourced from the organization’s website, annual reports, and IRS 990 forms. Books for Africa | Nonprofit Investor Research 3