Posts Tagged ‘irs form 990’

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.

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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 — “Fighting Hate” on $106,000 a day

May 18, 2012

How much do you earn a day? Well, if you’re the Southern Poverty Law Center it turns out that you make about $106,062 a day, mostly in the form of tax-free donations.

That’s $106k a day, every day, 365 days a year…

Or, $4,419 an hour…

Or, $73.65 a minute, every minute of every day.

Remember that next time you get an e-mail from SPLC founder Morris Dees explaining how desperate his group is for cash and how only your generosity can save the nation’s leading civil rights group from disaster.

As the SPLC’s most recent IRS Form 990 explains, the Center enjoyed revenues of $38, 712,628 last year, a modest 11.7% raise from the previous year, just like the raise you probably received too.

Click image to enlarge

In fact, even after paying more than $14 million in salaries (an average of $61,693 per employee) and another $6.5 million in fundraising costs, the SPLC showed a tidy “non-profit” of $4,147,216, when all the “hate fightin'” was over, or just less than a million more than the “non-profit” it showed the year before.

As Line 22 of the Form 990 shows, the SPLC has less than $240 million in tax-free assets on hand, so get out that checkbook and don’t be stingy.

A one hundred dollar donation will match the SPLC’s revenue stream for about one minute and twenty seconds.

For a cool grand you can boast that you kept the lights on for more than 13 minutes.

With your help, we can take the “poverty” out of the Southern Poverty Law Center.

Time is money, people.


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