Respect. Writing. Community.

Portland, OR   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 84-1482706


Write Around Portland changes lives through the power of writing. Our creative writing and publishing program works with social service agencies, hospitals, prisons, schools, and other organizations to provide therapeutic creative expression to folks in our community who have the least access to the arts. We believe that in any life - especially one lived in poverty or isolation - there is a vital need for art, friendship, and joy.

Ruling year info


Principal Officer

Chris McDonald

Main address

133 SW 2nd Ave Suite 304

Portland, OR 97204 USA

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Subject area info

Arts and culture


Human rights

Human services

Population served info

Children and youth


LGBTQ people


Women and girls

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NTEE code info

Arts, Cultural Organizations - Multipurpose (A20)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Throughout human history, many cultures and societies have used the arts as part of important healing rituals. Creative writing is an inexpensive art form that doesn't require many tools and can be accessed in all stages of life. Additionally, storytelling and listening when done together, in community can help people build empathy, break down walls, and bridge divides. For the listener or reader, storytelling does not require specialized education to be appreciated and comprehended. However, as opposed to other art forms, the literary industry is associated with a high level of education and, in many cases, a high level of wealth. When Americans encounter writing in the K-12 school system, writing continues to be understood as a product that proves understanding of concepts. Rarely are students exposed to creative writing, and if they are, most formal education assumes that creative writing will become a product (a published book) that will be sold in a marketplace.

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?

Nonprofit Agency Program

We partner with nonprofit agencies, schools, hospitals, prisons, and other organizations to provide a creative writing and publication program for folks who have the least access to the arts. Our 6-10 week workshop series is held where participants live and receive services, guided primarily by a trained volunteer workshop facilitator. Participants can submit a piece to be included in a twice-yearly published anthology, and are invited to a free community reading to share their work with an audience.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth

Resonate: A BIPOC Writers Circle focuses efforts on providing free creative writing programming to people of color around the country. Resonate provides drop-in, one-time workshops virtually and in-person.

Population(s) Served
Ethnic and racial groups

Where we work

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.

We hope to provide more care and compassion for people suffering in our community, including people are unhoused, incarcerated, in recovery, and/or who are physically or mentally ill or disabled. We seek to create a more empathic society by providing underheard communities with the tools to write together, share, listen across difference, and celebrate each others stories.

Our program utilizes a research-backed expressive writing model that encourages participants to write freely, without editing or evaluating their work. These generative sessions utilize activities, poems, stories, and other exercises to inspire creativity and promote exploration. Participants write together and are given the time and space to write whatever they like and choose what they would like to share. They listen to others work and give each other positive, specific feedback.

We utilize pen and paper even when other technology is available because pen and paper slow us down and emphasizes the process over the product (though we utilize technology as an accessibility device, when necessary.)

By giving participants the time and space for creativity along with positive feedback, opportunities for publication, and activities that cultivate joy and celebration we support healing and help build stronger, more empathic communities.

Through guided creative exploration and the sharing of stories, we help people listen across difference to foster empathy and offer new narratives that resist polarization and stereotyping. We honor, uplift, and celebrate all voices, especially those that arent typically heard in our society.

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 aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    It is difficult to get the people we serve to respond to requests for feedback, We don’t have the right technology to collect and aggregate feedback efficiently, The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is difficult to get honest feedback from the people we serve, It is difficult to identify actionable feedback


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

Revenue vs. expenses:  breakdown

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info
Note: When component data are not available, the graph displays the total Revenue and/or Expense values.

Liquidity in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 26.09 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 8.4 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 21% over 10 years

Funding sources info

Source: IRS Form 990

Assets & liabilities info

Source: IRS Form 990

Financial data

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Revenue & expenses

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Balance sheet

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

The balance sheet gives a snapshot of the financial health of an organization at a particular point in time. An organization's total assets should generally exceed its total liabilities, or it cannot survive long, but the types of assets and liabilities must also be considered. For instance, an organization's current assets (cash, receivables, securities, etc.) should be sufficient to cover its current liabilities (payables, deferred revenue, current year loan, and note payments). Otherwise, the organization may face solvency problems. On the other hand, an organization whose cash and equivalents greatly exceed its current liabilities might not be putting its money to best use.

Fiscal year ending: cloud_download Download Data


Financial trends analysis Glossary & formula definitions

Fiscal Year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

SOURCE: IRS Form 990 info

This snapshot of WRITE AROUND PORTLAND’s financial trends applies Nonprofit Finance Fund® analysis to data hosted by GuideStar. While it highlights the data that matter most, remember that context is key – numbers only tell part of any story.

Created in partnership with

Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $33,961 -$623 $92,906 $57,824 -$22,555
As % of expenses 9.8% -0.2% 26.6% 16.5% -6.0%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $33,961 -$623 $92,906 $57,824 -$22,555
As % of expenses 9.8% -0.2% 26.6% 16.5% -6.0%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $361,144 $372,502 $488,266 $343,237 $404,690
Total revenue, % change over prior year 8.6% 3.1% 31.1% -29.7% 17.9%
Program services revenue 13.2% 11.6% 6.6% 16.1% 7.5%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.1% 0.1% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Government grants 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 86.7% 88.4% 93.4% 83.9% 92.5%
Other revenue 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $347,661 $377,625 $348,683 $350,461 $377,056
Total expenses, % change over prior year 7.2% 8.6% -7.7% 0.5% 7.6%
Personnel 77.3% 77.3% 83.7% 83.1% 74.7%
Professional fees 2.9% 2.8% 2.5% 2.3% 5.9%
Occupancy 6.0% 5.6% 4.8% 5.2% 6.0%
Interest 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 13.9% 14.4% 9.1% 9.3% 13.4%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $347,661 $377,625 $348,683 $350,461 $377,056
One month of savings $28,972 $31,469 $29,057 $29,205 $31,421
Debt principal payment $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Total full costs (estimated) $376,633 $409,094 $377,740 $379,666 $408,477

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 7.9 7.2 13.0 11.8 11.0
Months of cash and investments 7.9 7.2 13.0 11.8 11.0
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 6.9 6.3 10.0 11.9 10.4
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $228,244 $226,316 $377,783 $344,933 $346,659
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $22,055 $18,809 $6,781 $27,233 $54,307
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 3.6% 3.3% 2.3% 1.3% 1.4%
Unrestricted net assets $198,653 $198,030 $290,936 $348,760 $326,205
Temporarily restricted net assets $53,250 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Permanently restricted net assets $0 N/A N/A N/A N/A
Total restricted net assets $53,250 $48,750 $95,427 $30,379 $80,568
Total net assets $251,903 $246,780 $386,363 $379,139 $406,773

Key data checks

Key data checks info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Material data errors No No No No No


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

Form 1023/1024 is not available for this organization

Principal Officer

Chris McDonald

Number of employees

Source: IRS Form 990


Officers, directors, trustees, and key employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of officer and director compensation data for this organization


Highest paid employees

SOURCE: IRS Form 990

Show data for fiscal year
Compensation data
Download up to 5 most recent years of highest paid employee data for this organization


Board of directors
as of 03/19/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board co-chair

Chenoa Philabaum

City of Portland

Term: 2023 - 2024

Board co-chair

Reggie Wideman


Term: 2024 - 2024

Sara Guest

Multnomah County

Amanda Walsh


Alex Larralde


Michael Montoya

Skeo Solutions

Marisol Tawadros


Kelsey Allen

Meals on Wheels People

Precious Bugarin

Mercy Corps

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? No

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 3/19/2024

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


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Asian/Asian American
Gender identity
Male, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or other sexual orientations in the LGBTQIA+ community
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation


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

Equity strategies

Last updated: 03/19/2024

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

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • 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 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.