operational expenses q & a

Informed giving.
Trustworthy programs.
Hope for humanity.

Love Builds Where Suffering Breaks

Operational Expenses Q & A

What is it?

An efficient process and integrity to operations is critical to any effective and honorable mission.  A commitment to exceptional internal standards and a sincere desire for professionalism and principles that honor both components sustain the mechanics and standards of excellence for a solid foundation that makes it possible for unique program services to succeed and thrive.  Operational Expenses (OpEx) include:

Management & General

  • Legal & Professional fees
  • HR
  • Payroll processing fees
  • CPA & Accounting contract services
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • Banking & associated fees
  • Donation recording & allocation
  • Receipting & record keeping
  • State and Government filings
  • Partner communications & reporting
  • Grant distribution
  • Liability insurance
  • Worker’s Compensation insurance
  • Office & General Software
  • Personal donor charitable giving portfolio development services


  • Donor Management Software
  • Donation processing fees
  • Marketing & Advertising
  • HR

Board of Directors positions remain volunteer roles and without compensation.

How much of my donation goes to Operations?

Our current policy is for every gift given, 75% is directed to direct program services and 25% serves to sustain operating expenses. We are a young organization, and while this breakdown is soundly within reputable acceptable and advised standards for nonprofits, it is our goal to see the percentage allocated to direct program services continue to increase. In FY2023, we were able to exceed our goal and direct 79% of income toward direct program services.

Donations designated by their donor for operational expenses (OpEx) are restricted funds and utilized solely for that purpose.

Is 25% of donations sustaining Operations?

Currently the answer is no. Twenty-five percent of donations is supplemented by donations specifically designated to operations that make it possible for us to meet our budget.

What happens if funds for Operations do not meet the budget?

To date, team salaries and benefits were prioritized prior to executive compensation in an unconventional “Bottom-up” philosophy adopted by the Executive Director (ED). In 2021 and 2022, budget reductions to balance the budget were fully reached with the Executive Director voluntarily waiving salary and benefits.

In 2023, restricted funds ensured a partial ED salary. Budget reductions to balance the budget in 2023 were fully reached with both executive positions (Executive Director and Director of Operations) voluntarily reducing their salary compensation and voluntarily waiving benefits. This decision also equipped Third Ladder to enter 2024 in a position of strength.

What is your personal donor charitable giving portfolio service?

Your relationship to Third Ladder and humanitarian work is more than transactional; together we step into the life and world of someone who is suffering to offer love through meaningful and appropriate action. Since we began, Third Ladder has offered a unique service to all existing and prospective donors.  With a personal consulting session, our team listens to your passions and goals for giving. We advise on existing program grant opportunities that share your particular passions and develop a focused or diversified allocation plan to these programs to meet your giving goals.

Regular meetings provide updates to you on the specific impact you are making. Think of this as similar in its fundamental purpose to a personal financial advisor that helps you allocate investments. Charitable giving is a very different investment that is strengthened and maximized by specific experience and skills. It crosses borders and cultures and is entrenched in the unpredictable and high-risk landscapes of trauma, darkness, and a multimillion-dollar global conglomerate of intricacies, dynamics, and intentions.

Together, our team brings over 50 years of experience in the combined fields of direct trauma care, international and cross-cultural relationship building, humanitarian program evaluation, small business operations, grant distribution, accounting, and therapeutic services that equip us to offer you valuable support to your humanitarian charitable giving.

Alternatively, if you are seeking a simple, competent process that does not require more of your over-extended time to execute, you can rest assured our team will apply our experience, knowledge, and heart to receiving and disbursing your gift.

We refer to our donors as our partners because you can have a voice in the process. We guide your gift from the beginning to honor your intention and to meet legitimate need, foster accountability, and ensure you know real results, real stories, and how you changed lives in a hurting world.

What are strategic goals for Operations?

Our measurable goal is to increase revenue through all current revenue streams (individual, Foundation/Trusts, nonprofit and Aria) as well as ignite revenue from grants and for-profit organization donations so that Operations are fully funded.

Our Commitment to You

We want you to see the ways in which your investment is being used.

Your direct impact

For each gift you give, 75% goes directly to program grants and unique due diligence services, and 25% supports the infrastructure to evaluate programs, facilitate giving and provide responsible oversight.

Our Financial Accountability

Accountability and transparency is of utmost importance to us.  Our 990 and Annual Report detail our financial statements.

View all financials here

Our Process

Every approved program in our grant portfolio goes through a rigorous vetting process.  Once approved, the monitoring and reporting process includes monthly reports, quarterly financials, and strategically scheduled routine site visits..

“It is an equalizer among us that each one of us can be a ladder as much as each one of us needs one at times to lift us out of the broken into the beautiful.”  Naomi Zacharias Zumback, Executive Director