Mount Holly, NC   |
GuideStar Charity Check


EIN: 30-0067482


Shining Hope Farms is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to enable children and adults to reach their full potential through the use of equine assisted activities and therapies.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Milinda Kirkpatrick

Main address

PO Box 1036

Mount Holly, NC 28120 USA

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Subject area info

Out-patient medical care

Animal therapy

Physical therapy

Speech and hearing rehabilitation

Mental health care

Show more subject areas

Population served info

Children and youth

Economically disadvantaged people

People with disabilities


NTEE code info

Health Treatment Facilities (Primarily Outpatient) (E30)

Other Services (D60)

Equestrian, Riding (N69)

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

There is a great need for holistic, evidence based therapies for individuals with disabilities and mental health challenges. According to the CDC, the amount of children with disabilities continues to rise year over year and there are also rising mental health challenges including among Veterans. Equine Assisted Activities and Therapies provide benefits that do not exist in a clinical setting. Unfortunately, these services can often be financially out of reach for families as similar programs around the country often: 1) charge an “equine fee" for the use of the horse which is not billable to insurance or 2) they do not take insurance, but provide families with a “super-bill" that they can submit on their own to their insurance and hope to be reimbursed. This creates a huge financial burden for many, especially in our state which has been ranked as the 5th costliest state to have a child with special needs.

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?

Therapy Services - Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy + Mental Health Counseling

We offer equine assisted therapies including physical and occupational therapy, speech-language pathology, and mental health counseling.

Our occupational therapy, physical therapy, and speech-language pathology is conducted by licensed healthcare professionals that use equine movement as a treatment tool (a treatment strategy called Hippotherapy). The onsite clinics are also used for off-mounted activities to help achieve certain goals. Historically, 85% of our patients who have received treatment have made functional gains helping to improve their quality of life.

Shining Hope Farms’ mental health counseling incorporates equine assisted psychotherapy, an interactive process in which a licensed mental health professional (psychologist, social worker or counselor) working with an appropriately credentialed equine professional, partners with suitable equine(s) to address psychotherapy goals set forth by the mental health professional and the client.

An emphasis is placed on serving poor and needy families in the community and most of the participants are able to access our program free of charge.

Population(s) Served
People with disabilities
Economically disadvantaged people
Substance abusers
Family relationships
At-risk youth

A PATH Intl. certified riding instructor conducts these group and private lessons where individuals participate in games and activities while learning horsemanship skills and receiving therapeutic benefits. The lessons are recreational in nature and the riders are assisted by a horse leader and side walkers which provide an enjoyable social environment. Basic riding and horsemanship skills are taught throughout the sessions which can facilitate improvements in the areas of emotional stability, social interaction, cognition, and physical abilities.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
People with disabilities

Saddles and Salutes is a program at Shining Hope Farms that serves Veterans as a part of their community support system for Veteran wellness. Veterans are able to select from any of our service offerings including group PTS mental health counseling, individual mental health counseling, physical, occupational, or speech therapy, as well as therapeutic riding where they are taught riding and horsemanship skills in a safe, standards based (structured), learning environment with individual objectives and goals. In this environment, we hope to help the Veteran thrive in the process of re-integrating from a military community to a civilian community.

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Premier Accredited Center 2015

PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International

Premier Accredited Center Renewal 2022

PATH (Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship) International

Affiliations & memberships

Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship International 2002

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 therapy hours provided to clients

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

Therapy Services - Physical, Occupational, and Speech Therapy + Mental Health Counseling

Type of Metric

Output - describing our activities and reach

Direction of Success


Total number of volunteer hours contributed to the organization

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

Input - describing resources we use

Direction of Success


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 ultimate goal is to foster quality of life improvements for children and adults with disabilities, mental health challenges, and Veterans in the Western Piedmont Region of North Carolina and to serve these individuals without discrimination, including of finances. Ultimately, we aim for 85% of these clients to make functional gains during their time in our programs to improve the quality of life for them and their families.

Organizationally, over the next five years our goals are to:
1) Develop the strength of our board of directors by increasing the size of the board and support from each member, including an increase in diversity.
2) Commit to a thriving, stable and supportive environment for the staff of Shining Hope Farms.
3) Ensure the long-term sustainability of Shining Hope Farms and continue to build its capacity to perform at a high level.
4) Increase strong strategic partnerships for the mutual benefit of program participants and the communities we serve.
5) Build the financial capacity of the organization to sustain current operations, as well as support growth.
6) Continue to evaluate program offerings at all locations, and improve upon, and/or expand, to serve our clients well, and grow our regional and national presence and influence.
7) Sustain, and gain more efficiency, in our day to day operations, leveraging technology, where possible.

In the next five years, we will continue to admit and discharge clients into our programs as appropriate and continue to serve and foster quality of life improvements in our counties. It is our goal to always maintain a relationship with our clients and their families, and have them continue to come out to the farm to participate in enriching activities.

To combat the high cost of caring for a child with disabilities, our organization plays an important role in improving the lives of these primarily pediatric individuals in our community through highly sought after unique strategies without adding the aforementioned financial burden to their families. Rather than focusing on prevention, we feel we are best equipped to serve as a holistic direct human and medical service provider to those that are resistant to traditional therapies and to those that would like to explore enriching therapeutic options but are unable to afford them.

The same holds true for our Veterans who largely pay $0 out of pocket for services which we instead cover through fundraising efforts.

Our strategies are to 1) Serve any person without discrimination of finances, race, religion, or ethnic background, 2) To be competent, by upholding the highest standards in the industry through proper certification and credentialing processes for the benefit of the participants (this includes adhering to all Professional Association of Therapeutic Horsemanship Intl. and American Hippotherapy Association standards), 3) To be compassionate, by providing a nurturing environment by building relationships with clients, their families, and community partners, and 4) To enhance the long-term sustainability of Shining Hope Farms and continue to build its capacity to be able to provide high quality services.

Near-term Activities that strengthen our strategic approach

- Continue to secure funding that will subsidize the cost to provide services to prevent the necessity of charging our participants an equine fee for therapy.

- Recruit volunteers to be utilized in select positions whenever possible to keep the program affordable.

- Stay current on staff credentialing and offer workshops for further training.

- Work towards developing a scholarship program for participants who cannot afford the fee for the Therapeutic Riding Program or for their co-pays/deductibles for the Therapy Programs. Aside, from enabling us to continue to service without discrimination of finances, it will enable us to continue our relationship with children who have reached their evaluation goals and need to be transitioned from the Therapy Programs into the Therapeutic Riding Program.

- In an effort to be sustainable and to continue to perform at a high level, there are several near-term capital improvements that SHF is eager to accomplish. The projects include:

1) Securing funding to build a handicap accessible playground at all location to serve as an alternative farm-rich space for evaluation and treatment.

2) Construct a new barn at our Charlotte location as we have outgrown our current barn and are in need of some logistical improvements.

3) Cover our outdoor arenas with pavilions to protect fragile clients and staff from the elements like damaging sun and rain while still remaining outside.

Shining Hope Farms' internal and external resources provide a strong foundation from which we are equipped to achieve our goals.

Internal Resources:

Staff - In an effort to sustain our goal of excelling in competency and upholding the highest standards in the industry we require our staff to have all required certifications and maintain proper credentials. All our instructors are PATH, Intl. Registered or Advanced Level Riding Instructors. Additionally, all of our therapists are either Level 1 or Level 2 AHA, Inc. (American Hippotherapy Association, Inc.) certified and one is one of only a handful of PATH, Intl. Registered Physical Therapists in the state.

Budget - Our budget is at the core of our goal to have the financial provision to take care of the poor and needy families desiring enrollment into the programs and to not discriminate based on finances. The vast majority of our funding goes straight to our programs. Shining Hope Farms continues to keep administrative costs at a minimum for the benefit of the program and its participants.

Expertise - Our riding instructors have long history with working with equines, including our equine specialist who is an HA graduate of the United States Pony Club.

External Strengths:

Partnerships - Shining Hope Farms partners with many organizations for the benefit of the consumers that we serve, to build relationships, to broaden the scope of individuals we are able to serve, as well as to ensure there is no duplication of services across organizations.

For our Community Service Program we partner with the following groups: Hands-on-Charlotte (a local chapter of the national Hands On Network), Wells Fargo, BB&T, Bank of America, SAP Corporation, Premier Inc., The Boy Scouts of America, The Girl Scouts of America, local churches, civic organizations, public and private schools, and colleges and Universities.

Influence - Milinda Kirkpatrick, influential SHF Staff for the nonprofit has managed grants including but not limited to the Ronald McDonald's House Charities of North Carolina, the Glenn Foundation, The Community Foundation of Gaston County, The Foundation of the Carolinas, Truliant Federal Credit Union, Speedways Children's Charities, Walmart, Kate B. Reynolds Charitable Trust, and the Carolina Panthers. She also won the Linda Wagner Slade Distinguished Service Award from the Community Foundation of Gaston County. It is awarded annually to a volunteer who is willing to go above and beyond the call of duty.

Progress towards Milestone 1: Students are demonstrating improvements in the areas of confidence and self-esteem.

Progress towards Milestone 2: We have expanded and renovated many of our facilities to date through contributor dollars and grant funding. We continue to fundraise for further expansion and renovations.

Progress towards Milestone 3: We continue to meet and exceeded the mark for this milestone. Volunteers are being recruited, trained, and are working effectively in the programs. We are still working on developing and adjusting strategies for long-term retention.

Progress towards Milestone 4: Children enrolled have met the majority of their individualized goals and new goals have been established to help with other deficits/weaknesses.

Progress towards Milestone 5: We are still in the planning process.


Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31
Financial documents
2022 2022 Audit
done  Yes, financials were audited by an independent accountant. info

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 1.98 over 10 years

Months of cash in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 1.7 over 10 years

Fringe rate in 2022 info

SOURCE: IRS Form 990


Average of 8% 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 SHINING HOPE FARMS’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.

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Business model indicators

Profitability info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) before depreciation $99,421 $26,580 $39,379 -$430,181 $647,025
As % of expenses 14.4% 3.7% 5.9% -45.1% 57.0%
Unrestricted surplus (deficit) after depreciation $28,935 -$29,551 -$5,602 -$468,022 $580,876
As % of expenses 3.8% -3.8% -0.8% -47.2% 48.3%
Revenue composition info
Total revenue (unrestricted & restricted) $766,617 $751,210 $733,694 $1,158,974 $1,106,687
Total revenue, % change over prior year 2.1% -2.0% -2.3% 58.0% -4.5%
Program services revenue 55.1% 57.6% 52.0% 35.0% 44.5%
Membership dues 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
Investment income 0.1% 0.1% 0.1% 0.2% 0.2%
Government grants 0.0% 0.9% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other grants and contributions 44.1% 37.1% 48.7% 53.5% 55.8%
Other revenue 0.6% 4.3% -0.8% 11.3% -0.5%
Expense composition info
Total expenses before depreciation $692,483 $725,505 $667,815 $953,289 $1,135,952
Total expenses, % change over prior year 3.9% 4.8% -8.0% 42.7% 19.2%
Personnel 37.4% 38.5% 45.4% 48.7% 49.6%
Professional fees 1.1% 1.0% 5.1% 1.1% 10.6%
Occupancy 7.0% 2.4% 2.6% 15.0% 7.4%
Interest 1.1% 0.9% 1.0% 0.7% 0.5%
Pass-through 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0% 0.0%
All other expenses 53.3% 57.2% 46.1% 34.5% 31.9%
Full cost components (estimated) info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Total expenses (after depreciation) $762,969 $781,636 $712,796 $991,130 $1,202,101
One month of savings $57,707 $60,459 $55,651 $79,441 $94,663
Debt principal payment $4,225 $4,359 $0 $21,924 $30,247
Fixed asset additions $0 $0 $0 $136,921 $75,375
Total full costs (estimated) $824,901 $846,454 $768,447 $1,229,416 $1,402,386

Capital structure indicators

Liquidity info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Months of cash 1.3 1.6 4.0 3.4 1.5
Months of cash and investments 1.3 1.6 4.0 3.4 1.5
Months of estimated liquid unrestricted net assets 1.6 1.2 2.3 -5.2 1.4
Balance sheet composition info 2018 2019 2020 2021 2022
Cash $75,103 $94,200 $222,572 $266,370 $142,654
Investments $0 $0 $0 $0 $0
Receivables $6,490 $1,680 $3,825 $5,980 $89,141
Gross land, buildings, equipment (LBE) $935,051 $932,450 $902,887 $1,037,271 $1,112,646
Accumulated depreciation (as a % of LBE) 35.1% 36.9% 41.7% 39.7% 43.0%
Liabilities (as a % of assets) 27.8% 29.4% 32.1% 25.2% 27.0%
Unrestricted net assets $504,983 $475,432 $469,830 $1,808 $582,684
Temporarily restricted net assets -$2,500 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 -$2,500 $15,000 $41,500 $677,365 $111,277
Total net assets $502,483 $490,432 $511,330 $679,173 $693,961

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

Executive Director

Milinda Kirkpatrick

Milinda is the founder and Executive Director of Shining Hope Farms as well as a PATH Intl. registered riding instructor. She graduated from Montreat College in 1981 and soon after went on to become an accounting clerk for Texas Instruments. Following her time with Texas Instruments, Milinda went on to start her own bookkeeping business, which she ran for 15 years. During this time she compiled financial statements for small businesses, reconciled checkbooks to bank statements, and entered data in QuickBooks Pro. In 2002, Milinda started Shining Hope Farms as a small therapeutic riding center with one instructor serving 25 children and adults with disabilities. Today, she serves as the chief administrator for all non-profit correspondence, and is responsible for the financial accounting practices.

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

There are no highest paid employees recorded for this organization.


Board of directors
as of 01/25/2024
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board of directors data
Download the most recent year of board of directors data for this organization
Board chair

Kari Saylor


Kari Saylor


Milinda Kirkpatrick

Shining Hope Farms (non-voting member)

Claire Chadwick

Experienced Rider

Alex Bogojevich

Iron Box Power Distribution and Connectivity

Sheila Gibson

Carolina Framers

Meagan Ignatowicz

Grant Thornton LLP

Jean Penner

Maultsby Realty Group

Dr. Kevin Monroe

Dentist/Owner – Mountain Island Family and Cosmetic Dentistry & Randolph Dental Care

Kristen Kannen

Marketing Engineer

Jim Gallagher

AVP & Regional Branch Supervisor, Wells Fargo Advisors, Gastonia City Council

Connie Bowman

Bank of America

Karl Kuehn

Retired Vice President-Investments with Raymond James

Caitlin Ignatowicz

Assistant Financial Representative Northwestern Mutual

Wayne Carter Jr.

Division Manager for CED

Courtney Stuckey Jones

Public Health Epidemiologist Atrium Health

Claudia Raestrepo-Gartner

Doctor of Rehabilitation, Atrium Health

Tres Wooldridge

Chief of Staff to the GM, Corning Optical Communications

Tim Herndon

Col USMC Ret

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 1/25/2024

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
Gender identity
Female, Not transgender
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or Straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity

Transgender Identity

Sexual orientation