Mission: Mission: Together, United Through Reading (UTR) unites military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud.

In more than 200 locations worldwide on land and at sea, United Through Reading offers military service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading books to the special children in their lives. The videos allow families to share storytime during periods of physical separation. Services can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through the United Through Reading App. Veterans and their families are also encouraged to participate in UTR.

When service members read to children they love and send the video recordings and books home: family morale is boosted; separation-related stress is reduced; family reading routines are maintained; children remain connected to their service members, making family reintegration easier; and children's literacy and language skills develop!

United Through Reading is a 501(c)(3) organization, with an IRS ruling year of 1995, and donations are tax-deductible.

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Contact Information

  http://www.unitedthroughreading.org

 1455 Frazee Road
Suite 500
San Diego CA 92108 

  858-481-7323


You are viewing this organization's new Charity Navigator profile page. To view the legacy version, click here.

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.




Exceptional

This charity's score is 95.75, earning it a 4-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

81.5%


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

9.9%


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

8.4%


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

9.6%


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

$0.09


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

0.54 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

19.80%


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 this organizations key compensated staff members as identified by our analysts. 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 W-2. In some cases, these amounts may include compensation from related organizations. Read the IRS policies for compensation reporting



Sally Zoll, Chief Executive Officer

$156,057 (8.21% of Total Expenses)


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:

Literary activities (BMF activity code: 092)


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.


United Through Reading reported being impacted by COVID-19 in the following ways:
  • Program Delivery

  • Fundraising Capacity

  • Balance Sheet


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

United Through Reading (UTR) is fortunate to have many steadfast investing partners. Because we were unable to hold two major revenue-generating events and did not know how fundraising would be impacted throughout the pandemic and subsequent recovery, we took measures to contain costs while continuing to provide high-quality services to our beneficiaries and applied for and received the PPP loan, enabling us to retain our full staff. UTR is grateful to have received a large grant in the second half of 2020 to facilitate program awareness and App-based program delivery enhancements needed for the COVID-19 environment. We are pleased to report that United Through Reading financially strong.


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

Due to Health Department guidelines and military requirements resulting from COVID-19, many of our physical Story Stations were temporarily closed and are just beginning to reopen. Our diverse array of program delivery mechanisms, including our Story Stations embedded directly in military units and the United Through Reading App, allowed us to continue to provide services to military members, Veterans, caregivers, and military-connected children.


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

During pandemic-related closures, United Through Reading staff concentrated on service delivery through the United Through Reading App. We accelerated App enhancements and executed a multifaceted program awareness campaign to ensure service members, Veterans, caregivers, and military-connected children are aware of our App-based services. This campaign included a PSA released nationwide, targeted social media, App Reading Challenges to motivate eligible beneficiaries to participate in services, book and collateral distribution at drive-through events, reading kits delivered to eligible children and families, organization of outdoor activities, and attendance at virtual events.


Innovations the organization intends to continue permanently after the pandemic:

To provide services to military members and Veterans who did not have access to physical children’s books, United Through Reading quickly adapted the UTR App to provide access to eBooks. This access was crucial for program delivery to service members who had to quarantine or deploy quickly to support COVID-19 response and isolated Veterans. The enhancements to the UTR App-based services, including the access to eBooks, will remain. We will also use the lessons learned from the varied mechanisms of program awareness deployed during the pandemic to continue to reach farther into our service population.


Historical Ratings

Date PublishedForm 990 FYEOverall ScoreOverall Rating
Rating Version: 2.1
12/23/20202019 95.75
2/1/20202018 94.28
2/1/20192017 84.07
4/1/20182016 80.81
3/1/20172015 83.21
6/1/20162014 84.09
Rating Version: 2.0
12/22/20152014 78.97
3/1/20152013 81.94
10/1/20142012 89.70
12/20/20132012 88.57

This organization received multiple star ratings within this fiscal year, due to an update to it's Accountability and Transparency data and/or the receipt of an amended Form 990.

4/1/20132011 94.16
2/1/20122010 96.86
9/20/20112009 94.74
Rating Version: 1.0
3/1/20112009 90.13
3/1/20102008 93.22
4/1/20082007 95.57
3/1/20072006 93.09
4/1/20062005 88.15
9/1/20052004 95.93

...   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

United Through Reading 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 United Through Reading? Join the waitlist for an updated Impact & Results score.


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Additional Information

Unscored

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Largest Programs

Largest Programs



United Through Reading reported its largest program on its FY 2019 Form 990 as:


$1,608,133

Spent in most recent FY

100%

Percent of program expenses


United Through Reading offers military service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading books to their children at home. This program creates emotional connections between parents and thei ... (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 United Through Reading 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


Together, United Through Reading (UTR) unites military families facing physical separation by facilitating the bonding experience of reading aloud. In more than 200 locations worldwide on land and at sea, United Through Reading offers military service members the opportunity to be video-recorded reading books to the special children in their lives. The videos allow families to share storytime during periods of physical separation. Services can be accessed 24 hours a day, 365 days a year through the United Through Reading App. Veterans and their families are also encouraged to participate in UTR. When service members read to children they love and send the video recordings and books home: family morale is boosted; separation-related stress is reduced; family reading routines are maintained; children remain connected to their service members, making family reintegration easier; and children's literacy and language skills develop!


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Vision

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


United Through Reading's vision is this: A nation of resilient families with a shared love for reading.


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: Accelerate Digital Transformation

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


Goal Two: Monitor and Grow Competitive Edge

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


Goal Three: Increase Marketing and Awareness

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


Source: Nonprofit submitted responses

Leadership Development

The nonprofit provides evidence of investment in leadership development


Describe an investment in leadership

UTR pays for continuing education to allow staff to develop skills needed for growth within the organization. We have undergone an internal reorganization to ensure position titles & descriptions reflect leadership roles & provide a path for upward mobility. The Board participates in a strategic planning session led by an outside facilitator every other year to review the past plan & set future course. The Board also participates in a self-assessment provided by BoardSource every 3 years to explore the relationship between who serves on the Board, the culture it cultivates, the way it fulfills its work responsibilities, & how all these efforts come together to position the organization to achieve our mission. The responses are benchmarked against other nonprofit organizations to evaluate our Board's performance against peers. The survey results are shared & discussed with the Board using an outside facilitator, & the results are compared to previous surveys to evaluate growth/change.

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

What are this organization’s external mobilizaton efforts?

Military families are geographically dispersed and can be hard to reach. To meet the needs of as many military and Veteran families as possible, United Through Reading works with partners to fold our services and resources into their program delivery mechanisms. In 2020, United Through Reading released a PSA nationwide and implemented a targeted social media marketing campaign to reach as many potential program beneficiaries as possible. As an example of thought leadership, United Through Reading released the Reading & Resiliency: Making Literacy a Military Community Priority report in March of 2021 and followed up with three webinars with panels expanding on the themes of the paper. As a member of the White House’s Joining Forces initiative and Combined Arms Institute, United Through Reading works with other military service organizations to tackle the most significant problems facing military members, Veterans, and their families.

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.


United Through Reading has always provided physical children’s books for service members and Veterans to use when they are video-recorded reading a story. The physical book that a faraway service member or Veteran touches, inscribes, and sends to a beloved child becomes a family treasure. The pandemic made this mode of operation impossible in some circumstances. Service members required to quarantine before and after deployment or other duty-related travel could not receive physical children’s books. Short notice calls to duty for COVID-19 support with fluid living situations also made it impossible to send children’s books to them. We knew we had to adapt quickly to ensure military members and Veterans could continue to video-record bedtime stories for the children they love. In early 2020, UTR leadership made a strategic decision to accelerate enhancements to our App, including providing service members and Veterans access to children’s eBooks so they can immediately utilize the App wherever they may be. As a stopgap measure, we found a publishing partner that provided PDFs of books that we could send electronically to service members and Veterans and physical copies of the books to the children. We launched a fundraising campaign to secure the substantial funds required to develop the needed App software enhancements. We were blessed to find a corporate partner to fund the software development project and a publishing partner that provided eBooks and physical copies of the same books that can be sent to the children. Less than six months later, eBooks were made available on our App, providing users an immediate solution if physical children’s books are not available to them. In keeping with research establishing the criticality of physical books in children’s hands for healthy development, physical books continue to be sent to the children receiving the video recording, even if an eBook is used for the recording process, so that the child can read along!

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

100

out of 100

The score earned by United Through Reading is a passing score.

Encompass Rating V4 provides an evaluation of an organization's Culture and Community by measuring its Constituent Feedback practices (see report below). Constituent Feedback data provides 100% of the basis for the initial evaluation of the Culture & Community Beacon.


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Culture & Community Report

100

of 100 points

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Constituent Feedback

Constituent Feedback

Full Credit


This organization reported that it is collecting feedback.


Here's how this organization is listening and learning from the people they serve:


How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

Electronic surveys (by email, tablet, etc.), Paper surveys, Community meetings or town halls, Constituent (client or resident, etc.) advisory committees


How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve


With whom does your organization share the feedback you got from the people you serve?

The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners


What challenges does your organization face in collecting feedback from the people you serve?

It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome


Briefly describe a recent change that your organization made in response to feedback from the people you serve.

We have widened the selection of books to be inclusive of children of all ages.



Methodology


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've partnered with GuideStar by Candid to survey organizations about their feedback practices. Nonprofit organizations can fill out the How We Listen section of their Candid profile to receive a rating.


Charity Navigator awards full credit for this Beacon to every nonprofit that is eligible for an Encompass Rating that completes the survey, in recognition of their willingness to publicly share this information with the nonprofit and philanthropic communities. This data is not evaluated for quality at this time. Validation will be added in future iterations of this Beacon.

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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