PLATINUM2023

MITZVAH CIRCLE

When a family faces a crisis, we are here

aka Mitzvah Circle Foundation   |   Norristown, PA   |  www.mitzvahcircle.org

Mission

Mitzvah Circle supports individuals and families experiencing poverty, homelessness and serious illness. We serve those walking along life’s edge by providing individualized material support. By individually assessing and building personal relationships, we remove barriers, eliminate bureaucracy, and invite people in crisis to contact us directly. After learning what people need to move forward, Mitzvah Circle Foundation delivers and distributes care packages containing clothing, shoes, diapers, period supplies, books, household goods, toiletries, and more. Mitzvah Circle Foundation is not faith-based; we treat everyone with kindness and compassion, restoring hope and honoring dignity.

Ruling year info

2009

Executive Director and Founder

Fran Held

Main address

2562 Boulevard of the Generals

Norristown, PA 19403 USA

Show more contact info

EIN

26-3705891

NTEE code info

Human Services - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (P99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Communication

Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

We Fill the Gaps Mitzvah Circle was created to fill the gaps, to provide items that are not covered by government assistance. Clothing, toothpaste, diapers, and deodorant are items that people need every single day, but not all can afford to buy. We are here so parents can go to work and kids can go to school or daycare.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Food Project

The Mitzvah Circle Food Project began many years ago with a simple idea and not a single volunteer. Our founder was standing in a local supermarket at the bakery counter when the bakery manager took 4 grocery carts, overflowing with baked goods out to the dumpster. She innocently asked the manager why the food was being thrown away and not donated to a local food pantry. The manager politely told her that it was much easier throw the food away. Without any idea what she would possibly do with all of this food, she immediately asked him if he would consider donating these baked goods. In an instant, with little consideration, he told her that was not possible.

She recalls emphatically telling the manager that there are many people who live within 10 minutes of our very own homes and his store, who do not have the opportunity to eat the beautiful breads, cakes and cookies that he was tossing into the trash. She asked him to think about it — just to consider the difference that his cupcakes could make in the life of a child. She asked him to think about the idea of donating the delicious day old goods and that she would be back next week and we would talk again.

She returned the next week — and the next week — and some weeks later, much to her surprise, a food program was born. Since that moment, in the year 2000, baked goods have been collected at a variety of grocery stores.
We are blessed to have many volunteers who deliver day old baked goods. Because of our volunteers, we are able to run this program four days a week all year long to a variety of locations. A few hours of your time each month or each week can change the world for someone who is hungry. If you can join this volunteer effort, and help make a difference, please contact us.

Population(s) Served
Adults

Most of our services fit under this general overriding category. Every day members of our communities face sudden financial difficulties that temporarily make them unable to pay necessary expenses.People in crisis require items so that they can participate in daily life, work and school. Mitzvah Circle provides over 100 types of basic necessities including: clothing, shoes, diapers, feminine care products, school supplies, toiletries and more.

Population(s) Served
Adults

We distribute diapers and other essential supplies to babies living in poverty by giving directly to families in need and partnering with social service organizations who distribute diapers and supplies to their clients.

We give out over 2.7 million diapers a year.

Population(s) Served
Adults
Children and youth

Females, of all ages, need pads and tampons so they can participate in school, work, and their community without worry or embarrassment. Mitzvah Circle provides these and also partners with local schools and community organizations to alleviate the burden of period poverty.

We give out over 700,000 period supplies a year.

Population(s) Served
Women and girls

Mitzvah Circle’s Internship and Junior & Teen Ambassador programs plant the seeds of service in our youth and inspire leaders who will continue to strengthen our communities.

Our signature programs include our College Internships, where we hire 10-14 interns each semester and summer in areas including Social Work, Non-Profit Administration, Event Planning/Marketing, and Logistics.

Our other signature program is our Teen Ambassador Program. Mitzvah Circle’s Teen Ambassador Program provides a unique opportunity for high school students to make a difference in the world and develop leadership skills. Teen Ambassadors are students entering 9th – 12th grades. This unique leadership program combines service and personal development in a select program that trains high school students to act as guides for new volunteers at our warehouse.

We are committed to developing young leaders with a passion for serving others.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Where we work

Awards

FBI Director’s Community Leadership Award 2018

FBI

Our results

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

How does this organization measure their results? It's a hard question but an important one.

Number of medically fragile individuals who received needed material goods, including diapers and toiletries.

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

People with diseases and illnesses

Related Program

Critical Needs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Context Notes

The 2020 and 202 numbers are only people served directly. Because of Covid-19, we changed our model and served tens of thousands more people through organizations and we do not have this data.

number of lives changed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adults, Children and youth

Related Program

Critical Needs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Diapers Distributed

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Children and youth, Seniors

Related Program

Diaper Bank

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of Period Supplies Given

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Population(s) Served

Adolescents, Adults

Related Program

Critical Needs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Increasing

Number of care packages sent for the entire family

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Related Program

Critical Needs

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

These numbers do not include our large-scale distributions to organizatons.

Number of volunteers

This metric is no longer tracked.
Totals By Year
Type of Metric

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success

Holding steady

Context Notes

Covid-19 significantly impacted our volunteers. This significantly impacted our business but we changed our model and were able to serve thousands more even without volunteers.

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

OUR SOLUTION
Mitzvah Circle is the only organization in our area that meets the material needs of entire families by providing immediate relief and a chance for families to get back on their feet. We serve people without barriers or bureaucracy, filling a huge, unmet need, providing swift delivery of goods, personalized by individual needs because we know one size doesn’t fit all.

Our Vision
Imagine a world in which kids and their parents do not feel less valued because they are lacking essential, daily items that many people take for granted such as shampoo or shoes that fit. A world where women have pads and tampons so they do not have to miss school or work, where every baby has a clean diaper. A world in which every person matters.

People contact us directly for help and we partner to serve people through organizations. We respond quickly without restrictive bureaucracy. Individuals and groups donate items, and our volunteers sort and pack them based on specific needs and requests. Mitzvah Circle Foundation is volunteer-based, utilizing a small staff and hundreds of volunteers. Our guiding principal is compassion and understanding. We know that throughout our lives we will all be in a position where we need help, and there will be other times we can give help. We serve all people regardless of age, family status, gender, race, or religious affiliation.

OUR MODEL
We are committed to serving the entire family because we know that if the child doesn’t have clothes and shoes, then the parents don’t either. We believe that every person matters. Parents need their basic needs met in order to go to work, just as children need essentials to go to school or attend daycare. We build relationships with the people we serve by working closely with them to understand the barriers they face and their individual needs.

Our model changed due to Covid-19. We quickly recognized that we could have a larger impact by giving large quantity distributions directly to social workers, schools, hospitals and other agencies. We never closed during Covid-19. Even without having volunteers for many months, this change of direction enabled us to serve many thousands more people than we had previously. We are continuing with delivering directly to families as well as these large distributions. We have 215 partner organizations that we serve in this way, as well serving people who contact us directly. We also have 194 organizations that refer their clients to us and we serve them directly. In 2022, we served 128,536 people.

Mitzvah Circle has a small staff of 10 employees. Our volunteers are critical to our work. We have developed an extensive network of 194 partner organizations who serve vulnerable populations. We also have hundreds of groups, schools, communities of faith and businesses who donate items and time. We have also created relationships with wholesalers for purchasing goods or having them donated.

In 2022 we:
served 128,536 unique individuals
distributed 2,724,774 diapers
distributed 723,353 period supplies
received referrals from 194 organizations
partnered with 215 organizations who then distribute our products
served 32,134 families.

The outcomes of our services include:
Improved Daycare & School Attendance
Children are able to go to daycare because they have diapers and appropriate clothing. Teens are able to go to school with dignity if they have period supplies.

Improved Family Employment & Community Engagement
Children are able to attend daycare because they have diapers and appropriate clothing, allowing parents to work, or seek employment. With the proper clothing and school supplies, children can succeed in school and gain self-esteem.

Comfort and peace of mind for families
Families have immediate comfort in the home because they have warm blankets, sheets, pillows, lamps, and other necessities.

Reduced hunger & food insecurity
Hunger and food insecurity are reduced through direct food donations and provision of pots, utensils, plates, and other kitchen necessities.

Increased happiness and decreased stress
Overall family health and happiness improves with lower stress levels when basic needs are met.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • 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 identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on demographics (e.g., race, age, gender, etc.), We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time

Financials

MITZVAH CIRCLE
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Operations

The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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Connect with nonprofit leaders

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lock

Connect with nonprofit leaders

Subscribe

Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.

MITZVAH CIRCLE

Board of directors
as of 09/01/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board co-chair

Jody Katzner


Board co-chair

Lisa Marin

Fran Held

Founder, Mitzvah Circle Foundation

Cynthia Weiss Stein

Shemtob Draganosky Taylor, PC

Silas Norman

University of Michigan

Wendy Urban

Temple University

Massimo Magliari

Ameriprise Financial

Jody Katzner

PNC

Joshua Arsenault

GLAD

Lisa Marin

Hun School of Princeton

Gene Levin

Retired

Stephanie Zirpoli

Ballard Spahr LLP

Stephen Robinson

No affiliation

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Yes

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 1/27/2021

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.

Leadership

The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
White/Caucasian/European
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation

Disability

We do not display disability information for organizations with fewer than 15 staff.

Equity strategies

Last updated: 09/01/2023

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

Data
  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We ask team members to identify racial disparities in their programs and / or portfolios.
  • We analyze disaggregated data and root causes of race disparities that impact the organization's programs, portfolios, and the populations served.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
  • We disaggregate data by demographics, including race, in every policy and program measured.
  • We have long-term strategic plans and measurable goals for creating a culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We have a promotion process that anticipates and mitigates implicit and explicit biases about people of color serving in leadership positions.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We have community representation at the board level, either on the board itself or through a community advisory board.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We measure and then disaggregate job satisfaction and retention data by race, function, level, and/or team.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.