Archive for the ‘Fund-raising’ Category

SPLC — 2018 Telemarketing Scam

April 25, 2018

Earlier this month the Southern Poverty Law Center released its IRS Form 990 tax return, noting that the company took in a staggering $136,373,624 dollars in Fiscal Year 2017 (leaving a paltry “non-profit” of $76,589,303 for the year) and the already-bloated Endowment Fund exploded from $319 million for 2016 to $432 million for 2017, 99.17% of which is “unrestricted” in use.

Page 39 of the document breaks down what the company paid third-party telemarketers for the year. As usual, the amount paid to the telemarketers far exceeded the amount of money raised over the phone in the name of “fighting hate.”

2017 Telemarketers

The SPLC paid four third-party telemarketing companies $3,177,807 donor-dollars to raise only $1,801,207 donor-dollars on its behalf.

This leaves a shortfall of $1,376,600.

As usual, this means that not only did every dime raised from unsuspecting first-time donors go directly to the telemarketers, but thousands upon thousands of longtime donors got tapped to pick up the shortfall without ever realizing it.

How many people does it take to mop up a seven-digit deficit? At $100 dollars a pop, 13,766 loyal, longtime donors. At a more reasonable $25 dollar donation, just over 55,000 suckers.

How can a private advocacy group afford this kind of horrific hemorrhaging year after year? It’s quite simple. The SPLC takes a minor financial hit each year to get the names and addresses of thousands of proven first-time donors. They feed this information into their own huge, uber-efficient in-house fundraising machine and the future donations will roll in for years, if not decades, to come. As the old saying goes, “It takes money to make money.”

Granted, the SPLC is not the only non-profit to engage in this kind of thing, and all donors have a responsibility to ask any telemarketers how much of their donation will actually reach the organization in question.

We at Watching the Watchdogs feel that the public ought to see the real numbers and see for themselves where their money actually goes.

The “Financial Information” page on the SPLC website makes the claim that “During the last fiscal year, approximately 68% of our total expenses were spent on program services.”

That’s a noble goal, and when you look at Line 16b on Page 2 of the Form 990, you see that the company spent 21% of those expenses on out-and-out fundraising. When you add in the $12 million in “joint costs,” those fundraising costs attributed to other departments (“Management” spent just over $1,000,000 on postage, for example) found on Line 26 of Page 11, however, you find that the SPLC spent 41% of its budget on fundraising right off the top.

When you figure in salaries, facilities costs and all of the other expenses of running a company with more than 300 employees, it’s pretty hard to see how 68% of expenses went to “program services.”

In the long run, most of the donors don’t really care. They each have their own concept of “fighting hate” and their canceled donation check or SPLC bumper sticker allows them to virtue signal to the world how wonderful they are.

In short, the donors are buying a product that the Southern Poverty Law Center is only too happy to sell them.

Caveat emptor.

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SPLC — 2018 Hate Map: Fake News Galore

February 25, 2018

The Southern Poverty Law Center recently released its 2018 “Hate Map” fundraising tool, and as usual, the Media is regurgitating the company’s claims without performing even the most rudimentary fact-checks.

Fortunately, that’s what we here at Watching the Watchdogs do best.

First, a little housekeeping:

  1. The 2018 “Hate Map,” as with all of its predecessors, refers to the number of alleged “hate groups” the SPLC designated for the previous fiscal year. The 2018 map refers to alleged groups from FY 2017.
  2. There is no legal or even universal definition for the term “hate group,” which is why even the FBI cannot, does not, designate “hate groups,” but somehow a private “advocacy group” can do so, early and often.
  3. Even the SPLC, which is the sole arbiter of the lucrative “hate group” label, does not have a firm definition for “hate group” beyond the nebulous and elastic claim that “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”That “definition” is suitably vague enough to be applied to nearly anything. As we will soon see, a “group” need not even be an actual boots-on-the-ground “group” to be included on the list. The “Hate Map” is rife with one-man websites, online vendors and nearly 300 “Statewide” phantoms.
  4. As Mark Potok, the SPLC’s former longtime Intelligence Director, stated publicly on numerous occasions: “…a “hate group” has nothing to do with criminality… [or] potential for violence…” Rather, as Potok put it, “It’s all about ideology.”No crime. No violence. Just “wrong thinking.”

    According to the SPLC, “Hate group activities can include criminal acts, marches, rallies, speeches, meetings, leafleting or publishing.” That any advocacy group could deliberately conflate six of the most fundamental First Amendment civil rights with “criminal acts” and “hate group activities” is beyond belief.

    Under this “definition,” Dr. King, the Freedom Riders and anyone even remotely associated with the Civil Rights Movement would be guilty of “hate group activities.”

With this background information in mind, let’s have a look at the 2018 “Hate Map.”

The latest “hate group” count is up from 917 to 954, which, in the wake of the very real racial tensions of 2017, including the Charlottesville riots, is a surprisingly low increase of only 4%

Keep in mind, when you are the sole arbiter of the “hate group” label, you can make up as many as you want. The Media, and more importantly, the almighty donors, would have swallowed nearly any number the company saw fit to claim.

As mentioned above, the SPLC cannot actually locate 297 of these groups on any map, including their own. This number includes 291 “Statewide” chapters, for which no information other than an alleged home state is provided, as well as two groups skulking in “Incomplete,” one each in “Eastern” and “Central” Pennsylvania and one each in “North” and “South” California.

Hard data doesn’t get any harder than this, folks. Fortunately, the Media and the donors aren’t all that big into facts.

It’s also worth mentioning that there were “only” 191 “Statewide” phantoms on last year’s map, for a surge of 51%, meaning the company is losing “groups” faster than it can designate them. That 4% increase must have come from somewhere.

The SPLC provides no information on these alleged groups whatsoever. It cannot provide a known location or any kind of headcount for the membership. We get to take the company’s word for it that these “groups” really, really exist.

That’s not good enough and it certainly isn’t good journalism. Big claims demand big proof, or any proof, for that matter.

This year, Watching the Watchdogs is launching the hashtag #ProveItOrRemoveIt to encourage the SPLC into showing its proof that any of its 954 alleged groups actually exist.

Well, surprisingly, despite coming off the most racist year in decades, the increase didn’t come from the reliable Ku Klux Klan bogeyman. According to the fearmongers at the SPLC, Klan groups actually decreased by 45% in 2017, from 130 to 72, tying the record low set during the Obama Administration.

The SPLC attributes the precipitous drop to the fact that today’s white supremacists are put off by the old fashioned image of the Invisible Empire. Today’s racists pine for a “hipper” image, they posit.

2018 Ku Klux Klan _ Southern Poverty Law Center

While homeless “Statewide” phantoms made up 23% of of the Klan groups on the 2017 map, that number has increased to 39% of the much smaller count for 2018.

Neo-Nazis seemed to be all the rage in 2017 and the “Hate Map” backs that up by claiming a 21% increase in Hitler wannabees from 99 alleged groups to 120 last year.

What the report doesn’t mention directly (you have to look for it, as we do) is that the number of “Statewide” Neo-Nazi phantoms “exploded” by 100%, from 45 to 91.

White Nationalists remained stagnant at 100 alleged groups last year, surprisingly. The number of WN “Statewide” phantoms barely inched up at all, from 30 to 35. Given the lurid media coverage of Charlottesville and other atrocities, one could be excused for predicting unprecedented growth in 2017.

Even the Racist Skinheads took a hit last year, down from 79 to 71 alleged groups, though the number of “Statewide,” “Central” and “Eastern” generalities grew from 60 to 63.

Say that last part out loud: The Southern Poverty Law Center cannot account for EIGHTY-NINE PERCENT of its alleged Racist Skinhead groups and yet the Media considers the numbers to be utterly reliable. Wow.

Considering that it was the removal of Confederate war statues that sparked the Charlottesville riots and at least a few other confrontations last year, readers may be surprised to learn that the number of “Neo-Confederate” groups designated by the SPLC last year dropped by an incredible 29%, from 43 to 31 alleged groups.

“Statewide” chapters celebrating the “Lost Cause” dipped slightly from seven to six, but on the plus side, Weogufka, Alabama, (Population: 282) joined Wetumpka, AL, and Waxahachie, Texas, on the list. (This really isn’t statistically relevant, but it is fun to say out loud.)

Anti-Immigrant, Anti-LGBT, Anti-Muslim and Christian Identity groups all remained largely unchanged for the year, so where exactly do we find any actual increases?

This year marks the debut of an entirely new “hate group” category, the Neo-Volkisch, which the SPLC describes thus:

“Neo-Völkisch adherents worship the Norse or Germanic gods, spirituality premised on the survival of white Europeans and the preservation of dead or dying cultures they presume to embody. Such individuals and groups use a variety of terms to describe their spirituality such as Odinism or Wotanism, Odalism, heathenism, Ásatrú or even paganism. Qualifiers like “Germanic” or “proto-Germanic” are sometimes attached to those terms. Other qualifiers like “Norse tradition” might also be used.”

Are they dangerous?

“…violence rarely erupts from the neo-Völkisch movement.”

So why are they a “hate group” now?

“Hyper-masculine imagery fetishized within neo-Völkisch spheres reinforces misogyny and traditional gender roles.”

Dear Freya! Not “traditional gender roles”! Oh, the humanity! What does that say about the Amish, Muslims, Orthodox Jewry and a large percentage of Latino immigrants? Will those hyper-masculine men make next year’s “Hate Map”?

So where are the 28 Neo-Volkisch groups located? Just where you’d expect to find Norsemen: Grand Rapids, Michigan, Brownsville and Grass Valley, California, Knoxville, Tennessee, Lynchburg, Virginia, and that perennial hotbed of hyper-masculine, horn-helmed hatred, Apache Junction, Arizona.

The other 22 alleged chapters? “Statewide.” Yes, friends, the SPLC has uncovered 28 chapters of a new species of “hate,” but they cannot tell you where 79% of them are actually located.

“That makes perfect sense to us!” quoth the Media. “Nothing to see here…”

In keeping with the man-bashing, the SPLC added a second new category last year, Male Supremacy. Calling it “the gateway drug to the Alt-Right,” (yes, someone was actually paid cash money to write that…), the two new “Male Supremacist” groups seem to be websites, rather than boots-on-the-ground groups that actually do things. The SPLC cites several blogs to prove their existence.

And, wait for it… 100% of these wimmin-hater “groups” are “Statewide.”

Last year, the SPLC counted 201 Black and Black Muslim groups in the land, the largest category by far.

(Even though this number included 68 chapters of the Nation of Islam and eight other Black Muslim groups tucked under the catch-all heading of “General Hate,” subsection, “Other,” none of these Islam-based groups have been deemed to be actual “Muslim hate groups” because the SPLC doesn’t track such things. Irks the donors, dontcha know, and that can run into money.)

This year the number of Black and Black Muslim “hate groups” has increased to 241, including the eight aforementioned “Other” groups, for an increase of 20%. The number of self-described Muslim groups rose from 68 to 94.

As the SPLC’s own chart indicates, these alleged Black “hate groups” have increased by more than 400% since the start of the century.

2018-Black Nationalist _ Southern Poverty Law Center

“Not to worry,” You may say. “The odds are that 8 out of 10 of these alleged “groups” are homeless “Statewide” phantoms.” Actually, only eight out of 241 are “Statewide,” up by a few pegs from last year.

Among the crimes attributed to these “Black Nationalist” groups are “forms of black nationalism [that] are strongly anti-white and anti-Semitic, and a number of religious versions assert that blacks — not Jews — are the Biblical “chosen people” of God.”

Yes, that is correct. The Southern Poverty Law Center has determined who the REAL “chosen people” of God are. Any other group claiming the mantle for themselves is practicing “hate.” Seriously.

Ah, but it plays well with many of the donors of the Fundamentalist Christian and Jewish persuasions.

And that, friends, is the whole purpose of the fantastically lucrative “Hate Map.” As shown, the numbers are not based in any kind of reality, the SPLC cannot identify how many people are actually in these alleged groups and makes no claim that the alleged groups are potentially violent or criminal.

“It’s strictly ideological,” said Mark Potok, and those ideologies, held by a pathetically minute portion of the US population today, are what agitate the donors and power the SPLC’s enormous money machine. Here are a few other things Mr. Potok has had to say about “hate groups” and the SPLC’s methodology:

“The numbers are absolutely soft,” said Mark Potok, a Southern Poverty Law Center spokesman. “We are talking about a tiny number of Americans who are members of hate groups – I mean, infinitesimal.” (Arlene Levinson, “Hate Groups, Crimes Said Rare in US,” Associated Press, July 8, 1999).

“We see this political struggle, right? …I mean we’re not trying to change anybody’s mind. We’re trying to wreck the groups, and we are very clear in our head, this is… we are trying to destroy them. Not to send them to prison unfairly or not take their free speech rights away… but as a political matter, to destroy them.”  (Holiday, 2008, track 13, https://archive.org/details/MarkPotok).

“I don’t think there’s any doubt that these are human beings and it’s a mistake to regard them as just a bunch of sociopaths… though most of them are. Let me say… our aim… sometimes the press will describe us as monitoring hate groups and so on. I want to say plainly that our aim in life is to destroy these groups. Completely destroy them!” (Sept. 2007,  https://youtu.be/fnTz2ylJo_8)

Clearly, neither Mr. Potok, before he got the boot from the company about a year ago, nor any of the six-digit-salaried white millionaires who run the company, or any of the other 295 company employees have any desire or any intention of “destroying” any “hate groups” anytime soon. You don’t kill the Golden Goose.

The SPLC is a multimillion-dollar “advocacy group.” It’s product is “hate group” fearmongering and its loyal customers are the almighty donors, nearly all of whom self-identify as “Progressive.” The company sells the customers what they want and the customers cannot get enough of the product. It’s a business, folks, not a mission.

Charity Navigator says they could be looking at a cool Billion-with-a-B donor-dollars for Fiscal 2017. Those numbers are due out soon and we look forward to breaking them down thereafter.

Charity Navigator: SPLC Donations for 2017 Could Reach One Billion Dollars

December 28, 2017

The Southern Poverty Law Center won’t release its annual IRS Form 990 tax return until February, but preliminary reports indicate that 2017 donations could approach ONE BILLION DOLLARS.

Charity Navigator, a nationally respected rating service of non-profit organizations, noted last April that donations to the SPLC during the first 100 days of the Trump Administration, from January 20 to April 20, 2017 were up by 1,400%.

Charity Navigator, First 100 Days

Source: Charity Navigator

While we do not have the actual figures for that period, the SPLC’s current Form 990 indicates that the company received just over $50 million in donations for FY 2016, which would average out to $12.5 million a quarter.

Math was never our strong suit, we freely admit, but if our back-of-the-envelope calculations are correct, a 1,400% increase on $12.5 million would come to a staggering $187,500,000 for a single quarter alone.

If there are any mathematicians in the house, or functional numerates of any kind, please speak up if these numbers are off in any way.

IF the figures above are accurate, and we multiply them by four to get a total for a full fiscal year, we come up with a nice, round $750,000,000 overall. That’s three-quarters of a billion dollars to you and me.

Keep in mind that total SPLC receipts from 2001 to 2016 “only” add up to around $624 million COMBINED and you can start to comprehend the magnitude of this statistic.

SPLC profits 2001 to 2016

And these numbers only reflect the increase on an average SPLC fiscal quarter. Charity Navigator’s estimate only extends to April, 2017, and while the country experienced numerous political and social events during the year, both Trump- and non-Trump-related, the real floodgates to SPLC donations opened in August, following the infamous Charlottesville riots.

At that time, major corporations, artists and celebrities threw millions at the SPLC in ham-fisted attempts to out-virtue signal each other as to who really hated “hate” more, and that does not include the uncounted number of individual donors who followed suit.

The SPLC makes it so easy to strike a pose and assuage your white guilt: just write a check.

And, as we noted at the time, it only took the SPLC two weeks to figure out how to cash in on the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville by slapping her photo on their unscrupulous “Wall of Tolerance” fundraising tool.

We won’t have any idea of the actual magnitude of money that changed hands until next February, but as the SPLC’s fiscal year closes on October 31 each year, it is reasonable to predict that the final quarter of August through October will show an increase far in excess of a mere 1,400%.

The good news is that with a billion dollars in cash coming in, the SPLC can finally retire from the odious fundraising business and live off the interest. Granted, that could put hundreds of SPLC employees out of work, but with the nation’s most profitable non-profit on their resumés, it won’t be long before they are snapped up by other hopeful contenders for the title.

You read it here first, folks.

SPLC profits from “I Am So Sick of White Guys” coloring book

December 23, 2017

As we have noted uncounted times on this blog, there is no legal or even standard definition for a “hate group.” Even the Southern Poverty Law Center, a company that rakes in hundreds of millions of dollars by selling “hate groups” to Progressives, does not have an actual definition for the term.

Instead, the company cooked up a non-definition that is so broad that anyone could figure out some way to apply it to just about any group they wanted. According to the experts at the SPLC:

“All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”

If those are the SPLC’s only criteria, “attacking or maligning an entire class of people,” then does it strike anyone else as odd that “the nation’s leading civil rights organization,” (at least when it was still in the civil rights business several years ago) is accepting a cash percentage from the sales of something called the “I Am So Sick of White Guys” coloring book?

 

Sick-of-White-Guys-book

 

“Relax,” say the authors. This isn’t maligning an entire class of people… it’s satire! Get it?

Sure we get it. Try swapping out the descriptor “White” from the title with any other color/ethnicity in the Diversity Rainbow and see how much fun it is. Change “Guys” to “Gals” (Chicks dig it when you call them “gals,” btw) and watch the Feminist fur fly. Try it at home, “I’m so sick of One-legged, African-American LGBTQRSTUV Activists!.” Why, the variations just write themselves. No “hate” here, after all. It’s satire, fer cryin’ out loud!

As the co-authors, who are both evil white guys themselves, remind us “Be open to hearing other perspectives or opinion. And don’t be so defensive.” Spoken like true Progressives. Say anything you please, as long as we permit it.

Want to have a real hoot? Swap out the picture of Putin with one of George Soros holding the strings. The Anti-Defamation League, which does not have a good track record with satire, will be all over you like the yellow-tooth stink on an Antifa bandana. There’s too much money at stake, don’t you know?

And speaking of money, catch the note at the very bottom of the cover stating that ten percent of this ten-dollar treasure will be donated to the SPLC. Thank heavens for that. According to this year’s online tax records, the company came into 2017 with less than $320 million in tax-free, unrestricted cash-on-hand. This boon could be a game changer.

Or could it? Let’s say they can sell 100,000 copies of this adult coloring book. The $10 grand sent to the SPLC would barely buy a single hour of Millionaire Morris Dees’ frequent speaker’s “honoraria,” and only then if your group wasn’t composed of evil white males. Otherwise, “No dough? No Mo.”

Let’s be optimistic, though. As the SPLC well knows, there are millions of people out there who are really, really sick of white males. Let’s say these guys manage to sell ONE MILLION COPIES of their magnum opus. That’s $100,000 to the cash-strapped SPLC, a whole lot of moolah in anybody’s book.

Well, in anybody’s book except the SPLC’s bookkeeper’s book. Last year the SPLC paid third-party telemarketers $2,266,887 donor-dollars to raise only $1,271,287 donor-dollars, for a net loss of $955,600. A lousy hundred grand wouldn’t even scratch the surface of such an incredible deficit. Instead, the SPLC will simply redirect the donations of everyone who gave through the telemarketers, as well as another 10,000 to 40,000 rank-and-file loyal SPLC donors.

At the end of the day, what we have here is a perfect example of “virtue signalling.” The authors are merely piling on to a bandwagon that has seen celebrities and major corporations demonstrating how much they hate “hate” by simply sending a check to the SPLC, and that doesn’t include the millions of new individual donors the company will pick up this year. That’s all you have to do. Send a little cash to a company that already has more money than it will ever spend and you can sleep the sleep of the Righteous.

Too bad so much of that money will go to pay the telemarketers and the six-digit salaries of the SPLC’s all-white Executive Suite. No matter. “Hate” was fought, after all.

The SPLC has no problem whatsoever if you want to bash white males (as long as they are not gay, Jewish, or one of the other more recent protected status groups) as long as you a) fig-leaf it as satire (“Can’t you take a joke?”), and b) cut the SPLC in for a slice of the pie. No hypocrisy here. Move along.

Don’t take our word for it. Go the company’s website and search “coloring book” and see if you can find anything that says “The SPLC refuses to accept money from a group that attacks or maligns an entire class of people.”

That would be bad for business.

SPLC and “Disqualified Persons”

February 12, 2017

Is there a tax doctor in the house? Last week the Southern Poverty Law Center released its IRS Form 990 tax returns for Fiscal Year 2016. The Form 990 is always an informative read because it contains so much useful information.

Page 1, Line 15 notes that the company paid $20,291,678 in “salaries, other compensation, employee benefits,” (11% of which went to the top 9 execs, leaving the other 282 employees to split the rest for an average of $64,000 each.)

We get that. What we don’t get is the entry on Page 10, Line 6 that reads: “Compensation not included above, to disqualified persons.”

disqualified

Who exactly are these “disqualified persons” and are they being paid outside of the $20 million dollar pot listed on Page 1?

Naturally, the IRS website was virtually incomprehensible on the subject, but several other sources defined disqualified persons as:

  • “Disqualified persons” are those who are in a position to exercise substantial influence over the affairs of the organization, during the five years before the excess compensation was made.

  • “Disqualified persons” would include, for example, voting members of the governing body, and presidents, chief executive officers or chief operating officers, treasurers, and chief financial officers.

  • Also included as “disqualified persons” are certain family members of a disqualified person, and 35% controlled entities of a disqualified person.

  • Other people could also be considered “disqualified persons,” depending upon the relevant facts and circumstances that show substantial influence over the organization, such as a founder, substantial contributor, or manager of a substantial portion of the organization’s activities.

So, apparently, for a 501(c)(3) public charity like the SPLC, “disqualified persons” include founders, presidents, and other top executives, who are already got paid on Page 1, Line 15.

It can also include members of the Board of Directors, who, according to Page 10, receive no compensation for their efforts.

Or, it may include family members of all of the above.

Sadly, the Form 990 does not disclose the identities of the people who are receiving that $14.4 million compensation. Surely somebody has this information. Perhaps the Freedom of Information Act could help?

We ask these impudent questions because the SPLC has a habit of hiding expenditures from the donors. For example, the company routinely makes the claim that “During the last fiscal year, approximately 68% of our total expenses were spent on program services.”

History has shown that this figure relies on the use of legal but ethically dubious gymnastics on the part of the bookkeepers. For example, Page 1, Line 16b of the Form 990 states categorically that “total fundraising expenses” for the year came to $9,689,461, or 21% of expenses for 2016.

Page 10, Line 26, however, notes “joint costs” of $6,989,987. What are “joint costs”? According to the SPLC’s own auditor: “The Center incurred joint costs of $7,983,475 for educational materials and activities as part of fundraising appeals during the year ended October 31, 2016.” (p. 14) Note that the auditor’s figure comes in at nearly a million dollars more than the Form 990.

Translation: “Joint costs are fundraising costs assigned to other departments.” For example, “Management” spent $737,711 on postage last year. That’s more than 1.6 million first-class stamps. Don’t the employees have email? Who else would “Management” need to contact on such a scale?

As Charity Navigator notes on its website: “Although the use of this accounting “trick” is often perfectly in line with the accounting rules for the reporting of joint solicitation costs (AICPA SOP 98-2) these rules allow for many interpretations and judgments that can produce questionable results.”

Add the auditor’s joint fundraising costs to the fundraising costs listed on the Form 990, ($17,672,936) and we’re already looking at 38% of last year’s budget, not the 32% claimed by the SPLC.

As it turns out, compensation to disqualified persons is also spread out across several departments, including another $2 million to fundraising, not listed above. That brings Fundraising’s grand total to $19,834,444, or 43% of the budget, not the 32% claimed by the SPLC.

disqualified2

Long story short, if the Southern Poverty Law Center is willing to obfuscate its fundraising numbers to hide reality from the donors, why wouldn’t it use the same kind of accounting prestidigitation concerning what it pays its all-white executive suite?

Does anyone out there know how Watching the Watchdogs can obtain the names of these mysterious “disqualified persons”? If so, please contact us as soon as possible.

SPLC — 2017 Telemarketing Scam

February 4, 2017

The Southern Poverty Law Center has released its IRS Form 990 and Audited Financial Report for F/Y 2016, and as predicted, it was a very profitable year for the company.

Part of of that success comes from the SPLC’s use of third-party telemarketers who convince first-time donors that their money will be used to somehow “fight hate.” In reality, their money, and that of thousands of existing SPLC donors, will be used to fight poverty — for the telemarketers, that is.

As we’ve reported in years past, the SPLC pays these telemarketers far more than they raise over the phone. Last year the company paid telemarketers $2,266,887 donor-dollars to raise only $1,271,287 donor-dollars, for a net loss of $995,600 (p. 40).

2017-telemarketing-numbers

As usual, the big winner was Grassroots Campaigns who were paid $1.8 million to raise just over $600,000. Telefund only pocketed 62% of the $340,000 it raised, while Harris Marketing kept 83% of the $256,800 it took in.

Since 2011, the SPLC has paid Grassroots  $5,828,603 more than they received in donations. While it seems incongruous that a company like the SPLC, which is forever sending out fundraising letters, as “the need has never been greater,” would be able to survive such financial hemorrhaging, the truth is they’ll make a fortune from it.

In essence, the SPLC is paying the telemarketers for the personal information of thousands of proven first-time donors, which they will feed into their own uber-efficient in-house fundraising machine. They take a loss on the first year but make it up with years, or even decades of successive donations down the road, at a sweet 100% profit.

The company isn’t even taking that much of a hit, as all of the first-time donations go straight to the telemarketers and any deficit is made up out of the existing donor pot, without any of the donors being the wiser.

How many long-time donors does it take to make up a $955,600 “shortage”? At $100 a pop, just under 10,000 donors. At a more reasonable $25 donation rate, just under 40,000 well-meaning suckers.

Granted, the use of third-party telemarketers for such purposes is not illegal and is practiced by many of the largest non-profits in the country. It’s up to the potential donor to ask the solicitor how much of their money will actually reach the SPLC.

Since Grassroots is paid a flat fee, they can even tell Grandma with a straight face that all of her donation will go to “fight hate.” That the SPLC is only going to triple the amount and send it back to Grassroots is merely a minor detail.

We’ve only just made our first pass over the SPLC’s latest financials. Stay tuned for more information on where the money goes.

SPLC — Doubling down on the “Trump Effect”

November 29, 2016

In February of this year, Watching the Watchdogs reported on the Southern Poverty Law Center’s thinly disguised attack on then-candidate Donald Trump that claimed that “election-related” harassment of immigrant and minority children was surging in the public schools due to Trump’s caustic rhetoric. They called the report “The Trump Effect.”

At that time we noted that the SPLC, like all 501(c)(3) nonprofits, was strictly prohibited by IRS tax regulations from promoting or denouncing political candidates during a campaign. The SPLC slid around that regulation by claiming that it had “collected 5,000 comments from 2,000 educators” who responded to an online survey created by the company’s “Teaching Tolerance” wing, which purports to promote diversity in the K-12 classroom.

See, it wasn’t the SPLC attacking Trump, they were simply repeating what they were told by the 2,000 respondents. Get it?

As usual, the Media obediently regurgitated the SPLC’s nonsense without performing even the most rudimentary fact checks, with many of them transmogrifying the company’s claim of “2,000 respondents” into “a survey of 2,000 teachers” and the term “harassment” into “hate crimes.”

What most media outlets conveniently ignored was the clearly stated disclaimer on the “Trump Effect” web page that:

“Our survey of approximately 2,000 K-12 teachers was not scientific. Our email subscribers and those who visit our website are not a random sample of teachers nationally and those who chose to respond to our survey are likely to be those who are most concerned about the impact of the presidential campaign on their students and schools.”

Not only did the SPLC publicly state that their “survey” was not scientific because the respondents were not chosen at random, they can’t even verify that the alleged responses came from actual “educators.”

The same document also notes that “Teaching Tolerance magazine is sent to over 400,000 educators, reaching nearly every school in the country,” and yet the entire “report” is based on only 2,000 anonymous, unverifiable responses?

Either 398,000 “educators” ignored the survey email or the SPLC cherry-picked 2,000 “reliable” people who would give the “right answers.”

Either way, given the widespread media coverage given the “Trump Effect” the reaction among the donors must have been fantastic.

Never one to let a good thing go, on November 28, the SPLC doubled down on its “Trump Effect” cash cow by releasing a new and improved version of the “report,” this time freed from any IRS election-related restrictions.

The new report now claims that “Over 10,000 teachers, counselors, administrators and others who work in schools have responded,” with “more than 25,000 comments.”

As if stung by Watching the Watchdogs‘ observation that all of the alleged responses in the first “report” were anecdotal, anonymous and completely unverifiable, the company made a point of claiming that:

“Nearly all respondents identified themselves by name, email address, grade level and state. More than 1,500 signified a willingness to go on record by giving permission for Teaching Tolerance to share their contact information with the media.”

Despite this apparent willingness to actually document their claims, the 2.0 version of the “Trump Effect” is accompanied by alleged claims by the anonymous likes of “High School Teacher, New York,” and “Elementary School Teacher, Minnesota.” There’s not a single claim backed up the willing 1,500 mentioned above.

And while the company buried its disclaimer a little deeper into the text this time, the song remains the same:

“The results of this survey are not scientific. The respondents were not selected in a manner to ensure a representative sample; those who responded may have been more likely to perceive problems than those who did not.”

Once again, the “report” duly notes that “Teaching Tolerance magazine is sent to more than 400,000 educators, reaching nearly every school in the country,” and yet only 10,000 “educators” allegedly responded.

It’s worth noting that the National Center for Education Statistics estimates that there were more than 3.5 million full-time teachers in the US in 2014, the latest statistical year, meaning that less than three-tenths of a percent of them responded to the SPLC’s open “survey,” anonymously or otherwise. You do the math.

In the long run, it really doesn’t matter. The Media is already regurgitating the SPLC’s “10,000 educator” claims as fact the day after the “report” was released. Even though the company clearly states that its numbers are “not scientific” and has yet to produce one single verifiable respondent, the Media will repeat every last claim as if it were true.

Well played, SPLC. No doubt we’ll see record-breaking donation figures in your next IRS Form 990, as well as much-deserved raises in the six-digit salaries your all-white executives are pulling down.

In the meantime, Watching The Watchdogs will continue to watch and to document your latest fundraising antics. You read it here first.

 

SPLC — Great “Wall of Tolerance” Scam

April 4, 2016

Last October, we first noted that one of the Southern Poverty Law Center’s most cynical fundraising gimmicks, its long-running “Stand Strong Against Hate” map was conspicuously absent from the company’s web site.

The gimmick was elegant in its simplicity. By simply clicking a link on the SPLC web site you could demonstrate your commitment to “stand strong against hate,” and to “stop the racist backlash from infecting your community.”

StandStrong

Click Image to Enlarge

In return for nothing more than your name, address and email address, you fought the good fight by becoming a digital pinhead on an interactive map. By moving the cursor over your pinhead your first name and last initial would pop up magically.

“Bob J., Chicago”

How exactly this “stood up to hate” was never explained. In the meantime, your personal contact information went into the SPLC’s massive database, where it would be added to the company’s mailing list and turned over to their growing team of professional fundraisers.

As mentioned, it was a simple but effective gag, and no doubt brought in a lot of new donors and donor dollars, but the company seems to have retired it in 2015.

Today we stumbled across a parallel SPLC fundraising ploy that is every bit as simplistic as the “Stand Strong Against Hate” ploy, but takes the game to a whole higher level.

In this morning’s RSS roundup of articles about the SPLC was a press release written by one of those “exclusive” public relations outfits that target individuals, usually professionals, offering to polish up and pad out their resumés, in exchange for an exclusive fee.

This particular gentleman is an attorney, practicing law somewhere Down South. We’re going to change his name here to protect his identity, but the final line of his press release reads:

“In 2005, Mr. Smith was awarded the Wall of Tolerance Certificate by the Southern Poverty Law Center.”

We are embarrassed to admit that, even after “tracking” and studying all things SPLC for the past seven years, we had never heard of the company’s “Wall of Tolerance” and had to learn more about it.

Our first thought, quite naturally, was that, like most nonprofit fundraising ventures, which might feature a “Golden Circle” or “Leadership Club” tier for their top donors, the SPLC was simply recognizing Mr. Smith for handing over the big bucks year after year.

But we were wrong…

According to the SPLC website:

“The Wall of Tolerance digitally displays the names of more than half a million people who have pledged to take a stand against hate and work for justice and tolerance in their daily lives.  Their names flow continuously down the 20-by-40 foot wall within the Civil Rights Memorial Center in Montgomery, Alabama.”

Wall of Tolerance

In order to get your name on this auspicious digital billboard you must first swear a solemn oath:

By placing my name on the Wall of Tolerance, I pledge to take a stand against hate, injustice and intolerance. I will work in my daily life for justice, equality and human rights – the ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died.

Half a million people have taken this pledge to honor “the ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died,” or did they?

While searching for information about the Wall of Tolerance we came across this blog post on the Democratic Underground website in which Mr. Joshua Allenberg expressed surprise to have received the same certificate of appreciation and had his name added to the wall, even though he’d never heard of the award and wasn’t even sure when, or even if, he had made a contribution to the SPLC. If he had, it wasn’t much.

At any rate, he never took a pledge, solemn or otherwise. Maybe getting on the wall is easier than it seems.

I just got an envelope in the mail addressed from author Toni Morrison. Enclosed was a form letter, a solicitation for a donation, and a Certificate of Appreciation. Now I typically donate 20 bucks here and there from organizations who send me mail, and I kind of lose track. So, what I got is:

Certificate of Appreciation
presented to 
Joshua Allenberg

In recognition of an important contribution to the ongoing fight against hatred and intolerance in America. The name shown above will be added to the Wall of Tolerance in Montgomery, Alabama, to provide inspiration to all of those who choose to take a stand against hatred.

Thank you for taking a stand.

Morris Dees, Founder
Southern Poverty Law Center

Does anybody know where this came from? 

The answer was swift in coming when several other posters figured out that the SPLC got Mr. Allenberg’s name from a mailing list purchased from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). Mr. Allenberg’s certificate was signed by SPLC founder Morris Dees and author Toni Morrison. Earlier iterations of the document were co-signed by Rosa Parks.

The certificates are accompanied by several sheets of return address stickers bearing the honoree’s name and address, one of the oldest fundraising gimmicks in the book, but still quite effective among that segment of the population that still sends a lot of snail mail, i.e., the elderly.

Directly below Mr. Allenberg’s web post was a piece by SOFII, the Showcase of Fundraising Innovation and Inspiration, an organization that rates and reviews fundraising pitches. Here are a few of the more telling comments about the Wall of Tolerance campaign:

SOFII’s view

The Southern Poverty Law Center, who launched this campaign, is a hugely impressive organisation with a long and well-deserved reputation for effective donor development.

Though we don’t have the results, we think we can presume that this direct mail capital appeal must have worked really very well.

Merits

This is one of the most moving and long-lasting donor involvement campaigns in the USA and represents some of the best that the direct marketer’s art can produce.

“Some of the best that the direct marketer’s art can produce.” And why not, the man behind this PR campaign is none other than Morris Dees, who made millions in the direct mail-order business in the 1960s before opening the SPLC.

In 1998, Dees was inducted into the Direct Marketing Association’s “Hall of Fame,” not for his civil rights work, but rather for his prowess in direct mail fundraising. Mr. Dees is an undisputed master of the sales pitch.

We have to admit that it’s impressive to see and definitely as fine an example of a master-level fundraising tool as we’ve ever seen, as this short Youtube video demonstrates. You gotta admire the craftsmanship:

 

 

While the video notes how people can add their names directly to the wall from SPLC’s civil rights theme park, no mention is made of whether one’s contact information is a prerequisite for the honor, but if SPLC history is any guide, you can make book on it.

Another direct mail fundraising industry web site, DonorPowerBlog.com had this to say about the Wall of Tolerance “donor acquisition kit”:

“Can you overdo recognition of a donor? I don’t think so. There’s a donor acquisition kit out there that tries.”

One final example of just how cynical this marketing ploy is was demonstrated by one other web posting in our search results. Marcus Epstein posted on the VDARE website that he too had been honored by the SPLC for his “important contribution in the ongoing fight against hatred and intolerance in America”

Not only does the SPLC consider the VDARE website so heinous that it deserves its own page on the company’s website, but Mr. Epstein himself, that great benefactor and paragon in the “ongoing fight against hatred” was found worthy of an entire article by the SPLC’s own Heidi Beirich, for allegedly being an arch-racist, and yet he is eminently qualified to be enshrined for all time on the company’s Wall of Tolerance.

Apparently anyone with a postal address can receive a “Wall of Tolerance” certificate and get their name on the electronic billboard in the hope that they will make that crucial first donation.

So much for pledging to support the “ideals for which the Civil Rights martyrs died.”

What an exclusive honor.

SPLC — 2016 Telemarketing Scam

March 22, 2016

Continuing a trend that Watching the Watchdogs first uncovered last year, the Southern Poverty Law Center has once again duped tens of thousands of new donors out of their money through the use of third-party telemarketers.

Page 40 of the SPLC’s IRS Form 990 tax return for 2015 shows that, once again, the company paid far more to the telemarketers than was raised in donations.

grassroots2015

Once again, the big winner was Grassroots Campaign, Inc., which was paid $2,028,857 to raise only $757,182, for a resulting loss to the SPLC of $1,271,675 donor-dollars right off the top.

One would think that such a discrepancy would horrify the frugal bean-counters at the SPLC, but in fact, just the opposite is true, based on Grassroots’ past performance.

2011:  -$212,214

2012:  -$869,686

2013: -$1,156,765

2014:  -$1,130,680

Overall, the SPLC seems mighty pleased with Grassroots’ efforts.

Not only was last year’s Grassroots deficit a new record high, it once again completely consumed every last dime raised by Telefund and Harris Marketing Group, meaning that all $1,514,365 dollars raised by all three firms, in the name of the Southern Poverty Law Center, went right back to the telemarketers, as well as another $969,474 right out of the SPLC’s existing donor pot.

So how many donors got scammed out of their money over the phone in 2015? At $25 dollars a pop, which seems fair for a first-time donation amount, only 60,575 well-meaning people who truly believed they were somehow “fighting hate.”

That’s over 60,000 people in just one year and that doesn’t include the 38,779 long-time donors who sent the SPLC their cash directly, for a grand total of 99,354 suckers for 2015 alone.

Over the past four years, the SPLC has sent more than 382,000 $25-dollar donations straight to the telemarketers.

But wait! There’s more! First of all, it’s not hard to figure out who the telemarketers are reaching by phone, if you think about it. Most cell phone numbers are not listed, most listed telephones are landlines, and most landlines today are owned by older people.

And how can the SPLC justify this horrific hemorrhaging of much-needed cash year after year? Well, that’s simple too, as the telemarketers actually sell the donors’ personal information to the SPLC, which then feeds the data directly into its own uber-efficient, in-house fundraising machine.

The SPLC takes a hit this year, (which is paid for by long-time donors), but next year, and the year after that, and the decades after that, every dime goes directly into the company’s crowded coffers. Last year they took in more than $54 million in tax free donations on top of their $302 million dollar endowment fund.

In the long run, these telemarketer tactics are not illegal, lots of other big name non-profits do the same thing. And for the 382,000 donors who paid the telemarketers to sell their information to the SPLC, “ignorance is bliss,” as they have no idea what the SPLC does with their money anyhow. They wrote out those checks willingly, convincing themselves that that was all they had to do to “fight hate.” They pretty much got what they were paying for.

If there is one bright note, it’s that the other two telemarketers, Telefund and Harris, actually turned over more of the money they solicited over the phone in 2015. In 2014, Telefund skimmed a mere 75% off the top of each donation. Last year they only pocketed 64% of the take.

Harris Marketing Group, after taking an incredible 90% cut of every donation in 2014, must have felt some genuine remorse, as they only took a 40% share of the pie this year.

Maybe there is hope for these people after all.

 

SPLC — Hate Map 2016 — Incredible… Literally

March 16, 2016

It’s March again, meaning that the Southern Poverty Law Center has released its latest “Hate Map” fundraising tool, and as always, Watching the Watchdogs is ready to have a look at the numbers, something nobody in the Media or government seems to want to do.

First, the usual warnings, definitions, provisos, etc.

  1. When the SPLC releases its Hate Map fundraising tool it refers to the alleged count for the previous year. In short, the 2016 Hate Map reflects the totals claimed for 2015.
  2. There is no legal definition for “hate group,” meaning that even the FBI does not, cannot designate “hate groups,” but somehow a private “advocacy group” can, and does, at will.
  3. Even the SPLC doesn’t have an actual definition for “hate group,” beyond the claim that “All hate groups have beliefs or practices that attack or malign an entire class of people, typically for their immutable characteristics.”In other words, “Hate groups say mean things about other groups.”

     

  4. The SPLC makes no linkage between “hate groups” and hate crime. Mark Potok, the company’s Public Relations guru has gone on the record repeatedly to say that “Our criteria for a “hate group,” first of all, have nothing to do with criminality, or violence, or any kind of guess we’re making about ‘this group could be dangerous.’ It’s strictly ideological.

That being said, let’s dig into the 2016 Hate Map. Fresh tripe, anyone?

All good things must come to an end and it is true of the Hate Map’s recent downward trend. Over the past few years the “hate group” count has been on a steep and steady decline, despite Mr. Potok’s dire predictions of “explosive growth” in the number of “hate groups” due to the election of President Obama and the tanking economy.

Hate Groups 2015

Source: SPLC

Initially, we attributed the drop to Mr. Potok’s successor at the helm of the Hate Map, Dr. Heidi Beirich, who is no doubt wise enough to realize that Potok’s ludicrous claims of ever-increasing “hate groups” were due to collapse under their own ridiculous weight. The recent rise, however, may point to other causes.

Endowment 2015

According to the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990, the company’s cash-on-hand Endowment Fund, which enjoyed an increase of 94% since the election of President Obama and despite the tanking economy, went flat last year, showing the first loss since Bernie Madoff moved into public housing.

It seems that the $8 million-dollar “non-profit” the company enjoyed last year, over and above operating costs, was nearly entirely consumed by an $8 million-dollar investment loss on the Endowment Fund, which actually contracted by a few thousand dollars.

What to do when profits are down? Goose the Golden “hate group” Goose, maybe? It has always brought home the bacon in the past, as the graph indicates.

We’ll speculate more on the Endowment Fund in an upcoming post. Let’s get back to the Hate Map.

Of the 892 “hate groups” the SPLC is claiming for last year, it provides exactly no information a journalist or researcher could use to verify the data. We know these groups are really, really out there because Mr. Potok tells us they are out there. Honest.

In fact, Potok and Beirich haven’t even bothered to come up with a location for 175 of the alleged groups, or 20% of the total. This embarrassing gap of “hate groups” unaffiliated with any known city or town is merely the latest in a very long history.

In 2011, 247 of Potok’s 1017 alleged groups were not affiliated with any known city or town, or 22% of the total. In 2012 it was 195 out of 1007, (19%), and 137 out of 784 groups in 2013, (17%). In 2014, 194 of the 734 alleged groups could not be located on any map, (26%). 

And yet, friends, the Media and the government swallow these “hard facts” as fast as Mr. Potok can whip them up.

And Mr. Potok doesn’t deny it. He doesn’t have to. When Watching the Watchdogs had the opportunity in 2011 to ask Mr. Potok directly about the accuracy of his “hate group” numbers, on camera, the he was amazingly candid in admitting that his figures were “anecdotal,” “an imperfect process” and “a very rough estimate.”

Speaking of rough estimates, last year Potok attributed 40 “hate groups” to New Jersey, giving it the fourth highest total in the country and leading Mark Pitcavage, Mr. Potok’s opposite number at the Anti-Defamation League, to tell the newspapers that “The SPLC’s counts are wildly inflated. They claim groups where there are none, or just one or two individuals.”

It’s pretty sad when you own brother-in-arms calls you a liar, Mr. Potok.

But numbers don’t lie. Or do they? After being publicly outed by the ADL, Mr. Potok magically reduced New Jersey’s “hate group” total from 40 to 21 overnight, mostly by simply erasing 14 out of 15 chapters of the “AC Skins” off the chart with his shirtsleeve.

AC Skins

Not to worry. Mr. Potok loses “groups” all the time. In 2015, his Hate Map warned us that 8 chapters each of the Free America Rally and the White Boy Society were out to get us, not that he could identify a single city or town where these threats to society were lurking. By 2016, not so much.

Free America

Sixteen desperate “hate groups” magically disappeared overnight.

The Council of Conservative Citizens had a rough year, losing more than half of its chapters with the click of a mouse. Fortunately, St. Louis is still conservative enough to keep two distinct chapters up and running.

CCC

And while the number of known chapters of the Aryan Strikeforce “exploded” by a phenomenal 100% last year (from 1 to 2!!), the number of unaffiliated chapters dropped by 39%, from 18 to 11.

2016 Strikeforce

A similar tale for the Aryan Terror Brigade. “Explosive growth” of 100% in known locations (from 0 to 1), but “terror”-izing shrinkage in the number of unaffiliated groups from 16 to 2. A drop of 88%!!

2016 Terror

Things are a little better for the National Socialist Movement (though we still can’t get this one all in a single image). While the number of known chapters has dropped by three, the number of unaffiliated chapters is holding rock steady at 29.

NSM1

NSM2

Seriously, folks. Mr. Potok cannot locate 29 out of 46 alleged chapters of the NSM, that’s nearly TWO OUT OF THREE, friends, and yet Potok still counts ’em and the Media, and more importantly, the donors, still believe it.

In the same online interview in which Mr. Potok talks about ideology (linked above), he makes this comment:

“I think a lot of people feel, ‘Oh, groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center, they find, you know, the two hundred Nazis running around the country, they build them up into great big groups, they make a big deal about it and then ask for your money,’ right? In other words, it’s kind of a scam. You hype up this little tiny threat into something scary, uh, and then go and try to make money off of it.”

Well, Mr. Potok? YOU’RE the guy who put a chapter of the NSM in nearly every state but cannot locate two-thirds of them on your own map. What are rational people supposed to think?

This is the same interview where Mr. Potok makes this telling statement:

“People think, you know, that it’s all about, sort of, defending poor people, and that’s not really, exactly what our mission is.”

Well, gee, Mr. Potok. Where in the world would people get that idea? It definitely didn’t come from us.

 Obviously, you can’t rack up loss after loss and still claim “a 14% increase” for this year, so let’s see where some of this growth occurred.

While Mr. Potok mislaid six of the Original Knight Riders chapters he had located previously, he made up for it by adding twice as many empty slots to the count.

Original

Thirty-one chapters of the United White Knights made their debut this year.

United

And the Texas Knights picked up 21 new chapters.

Texas

Interestingly, 13 communities picked up one of each. Maybe the Klan is getting into franchising. You open a McDonald’s on one street corner and before you know it, someone is building a Burger King across the street.

Both

Speaking of franchises, while the Blood and Honour skinhead organization took an 80% hit last year…

BloodAndHonour

…Thirteen chapters of the Blood and Honour Social Club popped up out of nowhere. Actually, it looks like 12 of those new chapters are still nowhere. Still, a “social club” has a real franchise chain ring to it, like an Applebee’s or a Hooters.

BandHSocial

The list goes on and on and these incredible gaps and gaffes are right out in the open where anyone with an interest can find them. All we did was copy the data from the Hate Map webpage and dump it into a spreadsheet. Rocket science this is not.

We’ll leave you with one last factoid that gets dutifully buried in every new iteration of the Hate Map fundraising tool, the breakdown of the threats to the nation by category:

BlackSeparatist

As we have noted here over the past few years, when you break the largest groupings down by category and strip out the unaffiliated phantoms, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the biggest category of “hate group” in the nation is once again Black.

How many donors realize that when they send in their money?

Not only do Black “hate groups” significantly out number every other category, respectively, according to Mr. Potok’s numbers, but 80 of those chapters are from the Nation of Islam, a decidedly Muslim organization, meaning that Muslim “hate groups” outnumber Anti-Muslim groups by more than two to one.

And if you look at Mr. Potok’s rag-tag bunch of Anti-Muslim groups they are almost entirely one-man websites, something the SPLC claims it doesn’t count. The one notable exception, and our personal favorite, is Casa D’Ice… which is actually an Italian restaurant on the outskirts of Pittsburgh. “Oh, the humanity!”


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