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Frequently Asked Questions
The COVID-19 Urgent Service Provider (CUSP) Support Tool is intended to serve as a starting place for planning your support of nonprofit service providers during this pandemic. Do NOT use the information provided in this tool to make final decisions about which organizations to fund or support; the ‘Sector,’ ‘Program Description’, and ‘Forecasted Reserves’ are not 100% accurate, and the financial data are not current. So, always conduct more due diligence research on the organizations you are considering by consulting additional information resources like GuideStar by Candid, ProPublica’s Nonprofit Explorer, and Charity Navigator, as well as conducting internet research on, speaking with and gathering information from the organizations of interest.
There are several possible reasons an organization is missing: (a) if an organization is NOT a US-focused direct service provider, and instead is an Alliance/Advocacy, Management and Technical Assistance, Professional Society/Association, Research Institute, Policy Analysis, Monetary or Nonmonetary Support, International/Foreign Affairs, Philanthropy, Science/Technology, or Mutual & Membership Benefit organization; (b) if a nonprofit didn’t submit their National Taxonomy of Exempt Entities (NTEE) classification code with the IRS and CUSP’s natural language processing algorithm was unable to use the organization’s mission statement and program descriptions to identify if they were a US-focused direct service provider; or (c) if an organization didn’t submit a 990 or 990 EZ in 2018 or 2017 electronically, they may not be a part of the database or their data may be incomplete as CUSP would have to rely on their 2018 or 2017 Business Master File submission.
An organization’s Months of Reserves are pulled from an organization’s 2018 990 tax filing, and calculated as follows: (a) for Full form 990, Liquid Unrestricted Net Assets = (Part X, Unrestricted net assets – Intangible assets – (Land, buildings, and equipment – Secured mortgages – Tax-exempt bond)) / (Part IX, Statement of Functional Expenses, Total functional expenses –Depreciation) / 12 (months); and (b) for 990 EZ, Cash, savings and investments / 12 (months).
Using 2014 data, a Random Forest Classification algorithm was trained to predict whether an organization had greater than or less than 3 months of cash/liquid reserves, three years later. The resulting model’s prediction accuracy was 95% (when applied to thousands of partitioned/new/unseen organizations). This final prediction model was then applied to 2018 data to forecast (predict) if an organization’s current cash reserve (2020) was greater than 3 months or not. NOTE: this is a forecasted/predicted estimate, NOT an organization’s actual reserves for 2020.
If a nonprofit did not submit their 990 or 990 EZ electronically, CUSP relied on the IRS’s 2018 Business Master File (BMF), which only identifies a few financial data points – for example, revenue and income. It is important to note that in these cases the ‘Functional Expenses’ and ‘3-Month Expenses’ are replaced with the proxy of 2018 Revenues, instead. Specifically, the ‘Functional Expenses’ = BMF Revenue, and ‘3-Month Expenses’ = BMF Revenue divided by 4.
EquIP uses Natural Language Processing (NLP) algorithms to determine an organization’s ‘Sector’ of service provision and ‘Program Description.’ The algorithms train on (a) an organization’s stated NTEE Classification; (b) annually-submitted mission/purpose statement; and (c) annually-submitted program description(s). The ‘Sector’ information is 90% accurate; 10% or 1 in 10 organizations are misclassified. While not perfect, the NLP algorithms are much more accurate than an organization’s self-stated NTEE Classification, alone, which is less than 50% accurate due to many organizations having missing, ‘Program Description’ is less accurate than an organization’s ‘Sector’: ~50% - 65% accurate. This compares to ~25% - 35% accuracy when using an organization’s self-stated NTEE Classification, alone.
An organization’s ‘Community Need’ is determined by using geospatial analyses and machine learning algorithms to identify all the communities that are within an ‘accessible’ distance of the provider, and then calculating their service Area’s Deprivation Index (ADI). Each of the over 74,000 Census Tracts in the US is assessed to determine their ADI, which is a research-validated measure of a community’s well-being that has been used in numerous peer-reviewed studies. EquIP uses the Singh Coefficient to calculate ADI. For CUSP, ADI is on a scale from 1 to 10, with 10 being the most ‘deprived’ and 1 being the least ‘deprived.’
It is important NOT to view ‘Community Needs’ as the Headquarter Location’s (City’s) needs; they are NOT the same. As noted in FAQ #7, above, ‘Community Needs’ represent all the communities (Census Tracts) that are within an ‘accessible’ distance of the organization. Depending on a community’s population density, commuting patterns and socioeconomic status, ideal ‘access’ distances will vary across types of communities, with a range between 3 and 25 miles. For example, communities will travel further for services like health care, human services and mental health services than they will for recreation, sports or youth development. So, many providers are accessible to many communities (Census Tracts) that are within longer ranges, between 15 and 25 miles. So, these organizations’ service area will extend to more than one city, town and/or borough. CUSP’s geospatial algorithms are likely also finding larger areas because large organizations sometimes have multiple locations within a region. So, when a provider’s service area is larger – say, 15 to 25 miles – the calculation of ‘Community Need’ will include multiple Census Tracts, resulting in what appears to be a lower ADI when some or most of all service area Census Tracts are NOT deprived.
Yes. If you would like to update the information presented in CUSP for a particular organization, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org. BCT will reply with details about which data points can be updated and the process for doing so.