Mission: Water1st International's mission is to enable the world's poorest people to implement and sustain community-managed projects integrating clean water supply, toilets, ... (More)

Water 1st International is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 2005, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  https://water1st.org/

 1904 Third Avenue
Suite 1012
Seattle WA 98101 

  206-297-3024


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Star Rating System by Charity Navigator


Charity Navigator evaluates a nonprofit organization’s financial health including measures of stability, efficiency and sustainability. We also track accountability and transparency policies to ensure the good governance and integrity of the organization.




Good

This charity's score is 85.08, earning it a 3-Star rating. Donors can "Give with Confidence" to this charity. 

This score is calculated from two sub-scores:

This score represents Form 990 data from 2019, the latest year published by the IRS.

View this organization’s historical ratings.


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Star Rated Report

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Program Expense

Program Expense Ratio

86.3%


The Program Expense Ratio is determined by Program Expenses divided by Total Expense (average of most recent three 990s).


This measure reflects the percent of its total expenses a charity spends on the programs and services it exists to deliver. Dividing a charity's average program expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Administrative Expenses

1.9%


As reported by charities on their IRS Form 990, this measure reflects what percent of its total budget a charity spends on overhead, administrative staff and associated costs, and organizational meetings. Dividing a charity's average administrative expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Expenses

11.6%


This measure reflects what a charity spends to raise money. Fundraising expenses can include campaign printing, publicity, mailing, and staffing and costs incurred in soliciting donations, memberships, and grants. Dividing a charity's average fundraising expenses by its average total functional expenses yields this percentage. We calculate the charity's average expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Liabilities to Assets Ratio

83.5%


The Liabilities to Assets Ratio is determined by Total Liabilities divided by Total Assets (most recent 990).


Part of our goal in rating the financial performance of charities is to help donors assess the financial capacity and sustainability of a charity. As do organizations in other sectors, charities must be mindful of their management of total liabilites in relation to their total assets. This ratio is an indicator of an organization’s solvency and or long term sustainability. Dividing a charity's total liabilities by its total assets yields this percentage.


Source: IRS Form 990

Fundraising Efficiency

$0.11


The amount spent to raise $1 in charitable contributions. To calculate a charity's fundraising efficiency, we divide its average fundraising expenses by the average total contributions it receives. We calculate the charity's average expenses and average contributions over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Working Capital Ratio

0.13 years


Determines how long a charity could sustain its level of spending using its net available assets, or working capital, as reported on its most recently filed Form 990. We include in a charity's working capital unrestricted and temporarily restricted net assets, and exclude permanently restricted net assets. Dividing these net available assets in the most recent year by a charity's average total expenses, yields the working capital ratio. We calculate the charity's average total expenses over its three most recent fiscal years.


Source: IRS Form 990

Program Expense Growth

7.91%


We compute the average annual growth of program expenses using the following formula: [(Yn/Y0)(1/n)]-1, where Y0 is a charity's program expenses in the first year of the interval analyzed, Yn is the charity's program expenses in the most recent year, and n is the interval of years passed between Y0 and Yn.


Source: IRS Form 990

Governance


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990 that the organization has these governance practices in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990

Governance:
Independent Voting Board Members  ... (More)
No Material Diversion of Assets ... (More)

A diversion of assets – any unauthorized conversion or use of the organization's assets other than for the organization's authorized purposes, including but not limited to embezzlement or theft – can seriously call into question a charity's financial integrity. We check the charity's last two Forms 990 to see if the charity has reported any diversion of assets. If the charity does report a diversion, then we check to see if it complied with the Form 990 instructions by describing what happened and its corrective action. This metric will be assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Full Credit: There has been no diversion of assets within the last two years.

  • Partial Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity has used Schedule O on the Form 990 to explain: the nature of the diversion, the amount of money or property involved and the corrective action taken to address the matter. In this situation, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: There has been a diversion of assets within the last two years and the charity's explanation on Schedule O is either non-existent or not sufficient. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
(Less)
Audited Financials Prepared by Independent Accountant ... (More)

Audited financial statements provide important information about financial accountability and accuracy. They should be prepared by an independent accountant with oversight from an audit committee. (It is not necessary that the audit committee be a separate committee. Often at smaller charities, it falls within the responsibilities of the finance committee or the executive committee.) The committee provides an important oversight layer between the management of the organization, which is responsible for the financial information reported, and the independent accountant, who reviews the financials and issues an opinion based on its findings. We check the charity's Form 990 reporting to see if it meets this criteria.

  • Full Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant with an audit oversight committee.

  • Partial Credit: The charity's audited financials were prepared by an independent accountant, but it did not have an audit oversight committee. In this case, we deduct 7 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
  • No Credit: The charity did not have its audited financials prepared by an independent accountant. In this case, we deduct 15 points from the charity's Accountability and Transparency score.
(Less)
Does Not Provide Loan(s) to or Receive Loan(s) From Related Parties ... (More)
Documents Board Meeting Minutes ... (More)
Distributes 990 to Board Before Filing ... (More)
Compensates Board ... (More)

Policies


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization has these policies in place.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Policies:
Conflict of Interest  ... (More)
Whistleblower ... (More)
Records Retention and Destruction ... (More)
CEO Compensation Process ... (More)
Donor Privacy ... (More)

Donors have expressed extreme concern about the use of their personal information by charities and the desire to have this information kept confidential. The exchanging and sale of lists for telemarketing and the mass distribution of "junk mail," among other things, can be minimized if the charity assures the privacy of its donors. Privacy policies are assigned to one of the following categories:

  • Yes: This charity has a written donor privacy policy published on its website, which states unambiguously that (1) it will not share or sell a donor's personal information with anyone else, nor send donor mailings on behalf of other organizations or (2) it will only share or sell personal information once the donor has given the charity specific permission to do so.

  • Opt-out: The charity has a written privacy policy published on its website which enables donors to tell the charity to remove their names and contact information from lists the charity shares or sells. How a donor can have themselves removed from a list differs from one charity to the next, but any and all opt-out policies require donors to take specific action to protect their privacy.
  • No: This charity either does not have a written donor privacy policy in place to protect their contributors' personal information, or the existing policy does not meet our criteria.

The privacy policy must be specific to donor information. A general website policy which references "visitor" or "user" personal information will not suffice. A policy that refers to donor information collected on the website is also not sufficient as the policy must be comprehensive and applicable to both online and offline donors. The existence of a privacy policy of any type does not prohibit the charity itself from contacting the donor for informational, educational, or solicitation purposes.

(Less)

Transparency


Charity Navigator looks to confirm on the Form 990, or for some metrics on the charity's website, that the organization makes this information easily accessible.


Sources Include: IRS Form 990 and organization's website

Transparency:
CEO Salary Listed on 990 ... (More)
Board of Directors Listed on Website ... (More)
Key Staff Listed on Website ... (More)
Audited Financial Statements on Website ... (More)
Form 990 Available on Website ... (More)

Additional Information

Unscored

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Total Revenue and Expenses

Total Revenue and Expenses

This chart displays the trend of revenue and expenses over the past several years for this organization, as reported on their IRS Form 990.

Salary of Key Persons

Presented here are up to five of this organization's highest compensated employees. This compensation data includes salary, cash bonuses, and expense accounts and is displayed exactly how it is reported to the IRS. The amounts do not include nontaxable benefits, deferred compensation, or other amounts not reported on Form W-2. In some cases, these amounts may include compensation from related organizations. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



MARLA SMITH-NILSON, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

$95,739


CECILIA WHATLEY, CHAIR

$0


HEATHER LEACH, VICE CHAIR

$0


TERRY GIBBONS, TREASURER

$0


KRISTINE BATY, DIRECTOR

$0


Source: IRS Form 990 (page 7), filing year 2019

Business Master File Data

Below are some key data points from the Exempt Organization IRS Business Master File (BMF) for this organization. Learn more about the BMF on the IRS website


Activities:

Activity data not reported from the IRS


Foundation Status:

Organization which receives a substantial part of its support from a governmental unit or the general public   170(b)(1)(A)(vi) (BMF foundation code: 15)


Affiliation:

Independent - the organization is an independent organization or an independent auxiliary (i.e., not affiliated with a National, Regional, or Geographic grouping of organizations). (BMF affiliation code: 3)

Data Sources: IRS Forms 990

The Form 990 is a document that nonprofit organizations file with the IRS annually. We leverage finance and accountability data from it to form Encompass ratings. Click here to view this organization's Forms 990 on the IRS website (if any are available).

Pandemic Response

Due to the unprecedented nature of the pandemic, we give charities such as this one the opportunity to share the story of COVID's impact on them. Charities may submit their own pandemic responses through their nonprofit portal.


Water 1st International reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Revenue

  • Staffing

  • Administrative Capacity

  • Relationship-building amongst co-workers (both in Seattle and internationally)


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's operations financially:

Our cash income declined by 24% in 2020. Much of our revenue comes from in-person events which were all cancelled in 2020 (and 2021). Because 75% of our donations come from individuals, in-person fundraising opportunities are critical to sustaining donor relationships; we are concerned about the lasting impact of this lapse in fundraising events. We worked to reduce operating expenses as much as possible and to receive refunds from vendors. We also applied and received the PPP loan. Our goal was to guarantee we could meet all water and toilet project commitments for 2020 (project commitments are planned at least a year in advance) and to end 2020 with a strong balance sheet. We anticipated lasting impacts of the pandemic so we wanted to ensure we were not spending reserves too soon. We achieved both goals. Our international partners all received 100% of the funding they had requested for 2020 and our year-end balance sheet actually increased by 24% compared to the previous year.


How COVID-19 impacted the organization's delivery of programs:

The critical nature of our work made it a priority to ensure that our in-country partners were able to retain staff and continue to provide critical services. After an initial slow down for adjustments to accommodate social-distancing and other COVID-19 precautions, construction of new water systems and toilets continued during the pandemic. The effective and unified actions of our in-country partners are continuing to protect our project regions and save lives. They are demonstrating the multitude of ways in which trusted leaders can mobilize and protect a community through effective messaging—this influence doesn’t happen overnight—our partners have earned the trust of the people in our project regions over decades. We are proud to call them our colleagues and commend their tireless efforts to keep vulnerable communities safe.


How this organization adapted to changing conditions caused by COVID-19:

Our staff initially shifted to working 100% remotely. We adapted fundraising events – a spring Walk for Water, summer Bike for Water, and fall Give Water Give Life gala – to be 100% virtual. This format presented us with an opportunity to engage donors who cannot typically attend our Seattle-based events. We also saved a significant portion of our fundraising budget on venue rental and catering. We offered a virtual program for our youth boards for the first time. This allowed us to expand our Seattle-based youth program to include over 400 students in more than 30 cities across the United States and our first international youth chapter in South Korea. Our international project monitoring visits have been adapted to video conference calls with in-country partner staff. Although this is not a substitute for what we can accomplish with in-person inspections and conversations with project users, our in-country staff have done an excellent job in providing us with regular reporting.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

Once we can safely return to in-person fundraising events in Seattle, we plan to continue with a hybrid model that will allow event participation from anywhere. Our Carry5 Walk for Water was especially popular as a virtual event allowing people around the world to walk in solidarity on one day. We plan to continue to offer our youth programs in a hybrid format, online and in person in Seattle, enabling student advocates to engage wherever they are in the world, In 2020, our youth board members organized an online Youth Global Water Summit, with participants and presenters from around the world. We plan to keep offering this and other virtual opportunities for youth advocates to connect and make a difference. Finally, our video presentations and question/answer sessions with our in-country partners will continue. This allows anyone to have contact with our international colleagues and the ability to learn more about their work directly from them.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
9/1/20212019 85.08
2/1/20202018 84.83

...   Impact & Results


This score estimates the actual impact a nonprofit has on the lives of those it serves, and determines whether it is making good use of donor resources to achieve that impact.


Impact & Results Score

Not Currently Scored

Water 1st International cannot currently be evaluated by our Encompass Rating Impact & Results methodology because either (A) it is eligible, but we have not yet received data; (B) we have not yet developed an algorithm to estimate its programmatic impact; (C) its programs are not direct services; or (D) it is not heavily reliant on contributions from individual donors.

Note: The absence of a score does not indicate a positive or negative assessment, it only indicates that we have not yet evaluated the organization.

Learn more about Impact & Results.

Do you work at Water 1st International? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


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Additional Information

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



Water 1st International reported its largest program on its FY 2019 Form 990 as:


$2,469,814

Spent in most recent FY

100%

Percent of program expenses


In 2019, the Organization completed 324 projects serving 17,511 people. Every project incorporates access to water and toilets, hygiene education, and community development. In Bangladesh, the Organiz ... (More)


...   Leadership & Adaptability


This score provides an assessment of the organization's leadership capacity, strategic thinking and planning, and ability to innovate or respond to changes in constituent demand/need or other relevant social and economic conditions to achieve the organization's mission.


Leadership & Adaptability Score

100

out of 100

The score earned by Water 1st International is a passing score.

Encompass Rating V4 provides an evaluation of the organization's Leadership & Adaptability through the nonprofit organization submitting a survey response directly to Charity Navigator.


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Leadership & Adaptability Report

100

of 100 points

Mission

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s mission


Our purpose is to enable the world’s most vulnerable communities to build and manage safe water and toilet projects at every household. Water1st unites people to fight the global water and sanitation crisis. We believe this worldwide, silent catastrophe will be solved when people come together as a concerned community and take effective, simple actions. Water1st was created to support water projects that would last, and we start from a place of respect for the people we assist. We believe people are their own best resource in escaping poverty and collaborate on solutions based on their priorities. We believe every vulnerable community is rich in human intellect and strength of spirit. We are successful because we invest in these resources and we work in partnership to find a path out of poverty.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking through articulating the organization’s vision.


We envision a world free of extreme poverty where everyone has access to a clean, permanent water supply and a toilet at their home, workplace and in community spaces.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Strategic Goals

The nonprofit organization presents evidence of strategic thinking and goal setting through sharing their most important strategic goals.


Goal One: Build capacity of our international partners: Continue to build our partner capacity and improve project outcomes through collaborative post construction evaluation and data analysis.

Goal Type: Grow, expand, scale or increase access to the existing programs and services.


Goal Two: Ensure consistent support of our international programs: This enables our partners to engage in long-term planning, retain experienced staff, & maintain relationships with local community leaders.

Goal Type: Grow, expand, scale or increase access to the existing programs and services.


Goal Three: Influence other organizations in our sector: Share our experience to encourage investment in solutions that ensure programs are long-lasting & have measurable impacts on health and gender equality.

Goal Type: This goal reflects our commitment to further our advocacy work for our organization and or cause area.


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Leadership Development

The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development


Describe an investment in leadership

We invest in leadership with our community of supporters and our water and sanitation program participants. Because we recognize that the solution to the problem of water and sanitation access will take decades to achieve, amongst Water1st supporters, our leadership development focuses on the next generation. Water1st Youth Chapters empower advocates around the world to organize their peers to impact the global water crisis. Chapters are youth-driven with workshops that support leadership and group facilitation skills. Leaders are provided a curriculum and guidance through regular virtual meetings with Water1s staff and other Chapter Leaders around the world. We prepare communities to independently own and operate their projects. They receive extensive training to build, operate, and maintain their water projects in perpetuity. Women specifically serve in key leadership roles in the governance and maintenance of their water and sanitation systems.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Mobilizing for Mission

The nonprofit provides evidence of leadership through focusing externally and mobilizing resources for the mission.


This organization mobilizes for mission in the following ways:
  • Strategic Partnerships

  • Networks of Collective Impact Efforts

  • Thought Leadership

  • Raising Awareness

  • Community Building

  • Policy Advocacy

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

Water1st intentionally shares our data and experiences with other organizations and thought leaders working in our sector. We recognize that the global water and sanitation crisis, an issue impacting 4 billion people, will only be solved when we are all working collaboratively and not competitively. We routinely share our insights from our direct water and toilet program implementation on our website and social media, at industry conferences, in industry publications and in informal meetings. We believe our biggest impact will come from our ability to collect and share data that influences the investments of other organizations in our sector.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Story of Adaptability

The nonprofit has an opportunity to tell the story of how the organization adapted to tremendous external changes in the last year.


We adapted fundraising events and our youth programs to be 100% virtual, allowing us to expand our Seattle-based programs across the country and globe. In Honduras, after an initial slow down for adjustments to accommodate social-distancing and other COVID-19 precautions, construction of new water systems and toilets continued at normal pace. Our local partner worked with mayors in the region to develop uniform messaging and prevention protocols. Our partner has recently applied to be a vaccination site for the region. The pandemic has devastated the local economy, and in response, our partner is supporting the highest-need families. In Bangladesh, the pandemic slowed construction of new water and toilet projects during periods of government-mandated shut-down. Because the construction costs of our projects in Bangladesh are 100% financed with low-interest rate loans, payment extensions have been granted to all borrowers who need it. Our colleagues in Bangladesh have been raising awareness about COVID-19 through extensive risk-mitigation campaigns and donating a percentage of their monthly salaries to support the most vulnerable during this time. In Ethiopia, a surging inflation rate is creating stress for community members as well as our colleagues and their families. The construction of new projects is moving slowly, as they are abiding by the mandate for a maximum of four laborers on site at a time. Our partner is working with all communities in the region to disseminate COVID-19 prevention information and support the most vulnerable community members, including the elderly and people with disabilities, with food and other basic resources. Our international project monitoring visits have been adapted to video conference calls with in-country partner staff. Although this is no substitute for in-person collaboration, our in-country staff have done an excellent job in providing us with regular reporting.

Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

...   Culture & Community


This score provides an assessment of the organization's engagement with the constituents it serves, a practice we term Constituent Feedback. When organizations listen to constituents, they are able to better deliver on programs and meet the needs of stakeholders. A future version of this Beacon will also assess an organization's people operations and its Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) metrics.


Culture & Community Score

Not Currently Scored

Water 1st International is currently not eligible for a Culture & Community score because we have not received its Constituent Feedback data. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile. This data will provide the basis for the initial evaluation of Culture & Community.

Note: The absence of a score does not indicate a positive or negative assessment, it only indicates that we have not yet evaluated the organization.


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Culture & Community Report

Unscored

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Constituent Feedback

Constituent Feedback


Constituent Feedback and Listening Practice data are not available for this organization. Nonprofit organizations are encouraged to fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile. This data will provide the basis for the initial evaluation of Culture & Community.


Charity Navigator believes nonprofit organizations that engage in inclusive practices, such as collecting feedback from the people and communities they serve, may be more effective. We award every nonprofit that completes the Candid survey full credit for this Beacon, in recognition of their willingness to publicly share this information with the nonprofit and philanthropic communities. Although the data is not evaluated for quality at this time, future iterations of this Beacon will include third party or other data that will serve to validate the information provided by the nonprofit.

Analysis and Research


Like the overall Encompass Rating System, the Culture & Community Beacon is designed to evolve as metrics are developed and ready for integration. Our partnership with Feedback Labs and Guidestar by Candid, and other partners including Fund for Shared Insight, GlobalGiving, and Keystone Accountability, enables us to launch the first version of this beacon with Constituent Feedback information collected on Candid's site.


Feedback practices have been shown to support better Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion outcomes, an essential area of assessment that we intend to further expand and develop in the future. Feedback Labs has documented several studies which indicate that beyond achieving organizational goals, nonprofits that are attentive and responsive to concerns and ideas raised by beneficiaries establish stronger relationships with the people they serve, promote greater equity, and empower constituents in ways that can help to ensure better long-term outcomes. You can find resources to help nonprofits improve their feedback practices here.

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