SPLC — $223 Per Minute, Every Minute

With the current turmoil in the U.S. these days, corporations, celebrities and average citizens are climbing over each other in a frenzied effort to signal their superior “anti-racist” virtue. One of the biggest benefactors of this largesse is, of course, the Southern Poverty Law Center. Granted, for the lazy virtue signaler, the SPLC represents an easy way to tell the world that you are somehow “fighting hate,” but how much of a difference does your donation actually make to the company itself?

According to the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990 tax return, the company claimed revenues for fiscal year 2019 in excess of $117 million dollars (down slightly from 2018’s $122 million and 2017’s record-breaking $133 million). It ended the year with net assets in excess of $543 million, or more than half a billion dollars, all of it tax-free.

What does $117 million of net income break down into?

$320,547 every day of the year, or,
$13,356 every hour of every day, or,
$222.60 every minute of every hour, or,
$3.70 every second.

Needless to say,  with that much cash flowing into the SPLC’s coffers, the average Joe doesn’t stand much of a chance of making a difference. For example,

A $25 donation equals what the SPLC takes in roughly every seven seconds.
A $100 donation equals 27 seconds of the SPLC’s income.
A $1,000 donation won’t buy five minutes of the SPLC’s income.

You’d be hard put to even physically make the donation in less than five minutes, especially if you are still writing paper checks and sending them by USPS snail mail, as many of the SPLC’s most loyal supporters do. By the time Grandma shuffles out to the mailbox, with a generous gift in hand, her donation has already been swamped by the competition.

Once you get into the million-donor-dollar range you can tell people that you kept the lights on at the SPLC for just over three whole days (hopefully not over a holiday weekend), but a million bucks doesn’t mean as much to the SPLC as it does to you or me.

For example, in March of 2019, SPLC President Richard Cohen had to actually fire company founder Morris Dees due to decades of accusations by female employees of sexual harassment by Dees.

A week later, under a cloud for knowingly keeping Mr. Dees on the payroll all those years and for perpetuating Dees’ 49-year policy of not hiring minorities to senior positions at the SPLC, both President Cohen and company Legal Director Rhonda Brownstein quit the organization ignominiously.

[Over one year later and most of the Board members who kept Cohen and Brownstein on the payroll for decades are still on the Board of Directors!]

Fortunately, the company’s IRS Form 990 shows that all three executives received their full salaries and benefits for the year, for a total of $1,109,049. Hopefully it wasn’t your million dollar donation that paid for the unmitigated failure of these three individuals.

You may wish to console yourself with the belief that your million went to the 7% of the SPLC budget allocated toward “case cost expenses,” as you are supporting a “law center” after all. It’s worth noting that 7% is a record high for the company, which has only spent more than 4% of its budget on legal cases four times since 2001, with several years barely breaking the 1% threshold.

If you weren’t one of the six lucky million-dollar donors to cover the company’s legal expenses in 2019 you can take solace in the knowledge that the SPLC spent more than $5 million dollars in postage last year, in an age of ubiquitous email.

Of course, you have a far better chance of getting into the $23 million-dollar pool for fundraising costs. According to the SPLC’s own auditor, the company paid over $11 million in overt fundraising fees and “…incurred joint costs of $11,241,553 for educational materials and activities as part of fund-raising appeals during the year ended October 31, 2019.”

One would think that with half a billion in cash assets on hand the SPLC could find something more useful on which to spend $23 million donor-dollars.

And what might that “something” be? According to several organizational websites, your local food bank can provide four nourishing meals for a dollar. That means your $25 dollar donation can feed a hungry family of four for nearly seven days, versus supporting the SPLC for nearly seven seconds.

That same $25 can provide a dozen needy people with insulin or other life-saving medicines for a month. Shelters for abused or battered women and children are always in desperate need of financial support.

Even your local SPCA can do far more with your gift than the six-digit-salary fundraisers and failed millionaire executives of the SPLC.

Give locally, where the needs are greater and where you can see the results of your gifts first hand. You’ll still get cool points for helping out, but this way you can actually do some good.

 

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