Top Ten Worst Administrative Expense Offenders in the Non-Profit Sector

By | June 16, 2010

Administrative expenses are a part of any non-profit’s overall operating expenses and though donors generally give to charity with the hope that their contributions will help fulfill the organization’s mission as opposed to cover SG&A, Charity Navigator has a top ten of the worst offenders when it comes to admin expenses. Let’s take a look, shall we?

10: Center for Individual Rights 46.1%
9: Changed Lives 47.4%
8: Vision New England 48.7%
7: Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation 48.8%
6: National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame 55.1%
5: Cherokee National Historical Society 58.2%
4: Union Rescue Mission Little Rock 62.1%
3: National Council of Negro Women 64%
2: Boys Choir of Harlem 66.3%
1: American Tract Society 68%

For its last available income statement through Charity Navigator, the American Tract Society brought in $2,194,730 and spent $1,615,847 on administrative expenses, compared to $711,854 in program expenses and $47,210 in fundraising expenses. This is twice what the charity spent the year previous on admin expenses.

The American Tract Society’s mission is to distribute religious literature to spread its message. Well actually its mission is officially “to make Jesus Christ known in His redeeming grace and to promote the interests of vital godliness and sound morality, by the circulation of Religious Tracts, calculated to receive the approbation of all Evangelical Christians. The mission of ATS is to provide relevant tools for presenting the gospel.”

Perhaps someone needs to say a prayer to St Matthew asking for a little accounting help.

By comparison, similar charity Bibles for the World, based in Colorado, spent only 6.4% of its $4,215,202 in revenue on administrative expenses in the same period.

The second worst offenders on the list, the Boys Choir of Harlem, spent $140,787 out of $299,729 in total revenue on administrative expenses in 2007. At that point, the charity was nearly $4 million in the red and has since ended. The group spent 30 years bringing the joy of music to at-risk inner-city youth and the choir had performed for sitting presidents since Lyndon Johnson.

Would-be donors are welcome to peruse Charity Navigator for detailed information on just about every charity in the country before making donations, lest that $100 feel good gift end up paying mostly for secretaries and prime office space.

  • 212big4

    college kids are funny

  • AnotherExAuditor

    I’ve seen my big 4 INCREASE the starting salary for new hires before they even started. I am not joking.

    • guest

      Yea, I don’t understand why his question is so funny. I’ve had many friends get their offer adjusted before they started working full-time. One of my friends got his salary adjusted twice. My recruiter also said my salary would likely get adjusted as the economy gets better (not sure if it really has though).

  • Another exKPMGer

    To add a couple of notes to Calebs response, 1) BAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA. 2) (you should find this more useful) the response concerning geographic locationis the kicker here. I’ll use KPMG since it’s what I’m familiar with. KPMG has 4 different pay levels. Smaller cities with lower cost of living are going to be in the bottom tier. Bigger cities with a higher cost of living are going to be in the top tier (think of your New Yorks, Boston’s, LAs, etc.). Here’s the thing, if you’re making less than 50k it means you live in one of these smaller markets, in which case you should be JUMPING FOR JOY.

    Let’s do an informal poll on here, and it should help you understand. If you live in a bigger city with a high cost of living, do you 1) own a car (that you bought when it was 3 or less years old; leases excluded), and 2) do you own a single family detached dwelling that has property with it?

    For most Seniors and Staff in these big cities, the answer to question 1 might be yes for some, but I’d be surprised if many people could answer yes to number 2. I live in a smaller market, have a 3 BR 1.5 Bath single family home with finished basement and attached two car garage and a yard big enough for my dog to run in and I paid $175k for it. My friends in DC are buying townhomes starting at $300k (that might have gone down a little bit with the housing bubble, i’m thinking of 2 or 3 years ago). See the difference? You can buy a nice townhome in my market for $105k – $145k. So you’re not making $50k? It’s not about making more later in life that you should be relieved about. It’s being able to have the things you want and not being cash strapped because the cost of living is so much lower.

    I need another cup of coffee.

    • Guest

      Wow 300k for a town home in Washington DC? In NY a town home is a minimum of 600k, and those are in the bad parts of town in the outer boroughs.

      • Another exKPMGer

        Good luck buying one of those on $65k a year.

    • BigTex

      I can’t say enough how right this is. I’m in the southwest with 51k and someone that I know that transferred to NYC is making 59k. They don’t compensate you properly for more expensive places, even if you do make money. I would guess you’d need around 80-90k in NYC to hit the standard of living you have in the southwest. Someone might correct me here and tell me I’m lowballing the wages needed in NYC, but that only proves the point. Hell, in Texas they don’t even have a state income tax.

      • Another exKPMGer

        This was my point exactly! (Just said a different way.) My point was that you’re better off if you’re in one of these lower markets making less money because you’re more able to have a satisfactory standard of living. The rule of thumb according to my bank is that they will loan you up to 3 times your salary, so a small market making $45k a year can get a house in the $135k range, a very nice townhome or smaller single family dwelling. Throw in a spouse’s income and you’ve got a NICE place to live. Flash to NYC, you’re making $60k a year, you only qualify for $180-200k in loans, which if the numbers above are right won’t even buy you a sniff at a house. Even if you have a spouse making comparable money, you’re still in the $350-400k range which might get you a tiny condo somewhere!

        I guess my point is, don’t worry about being in a small market, it’s better for you!

        • Gc

          I think the morale of the story is that Texas is the place to be, despite it’s reputation. We can afford to take vacations to “cool” place like NYC, LA, and Vegas whenever we want, along with our houses.

  • Buzz_Kill

    These are the same kids that drive better cars then their managers and senior managers.

    • Colonel Sanders

      Kids cost more than cars

    • Colonel Sanders

      Dumbshit – that is what I was saying.

      Older you are, the more likely you are to have kids. Sorry you didn’t pick up on that, must have not had the PY file in front of you. Go back to making my copies.

    • YNOS

      Staff do not give a second thought on driving a car equal to their annual salary; yet bitch about salary differences of less than the annual depreciation of their fine European or Asian luxury rides.

      When you start showing some austerity in your spending and focus on your career, then maybe you can actually handle the responsibly of a higher salary.

  • Guest

    A B4’s NY office recently upwardly adjusted its internship pay rate for summer 2011. It is about $1/hr higher than what the three other firms are offering. Not sure if full-time salaries were adjusted upward as well.

    • “A B4’s NY office…” – what firm? This is useless.

      • Guest


  • Abuser in chief

    New hires hear this: you will be under paid and abused for a few years – but then the tables will turn. That’s the way of the world, not just the accounting profession.

    • Person

      Nice user name ^

  • Big4intheBigApple

    I’m a staff 1 at a B4 in NYC and make 56k. I don’t have a car, but rent takes up pretty much one of my 2 paychecks a month (and I live in Brooklyn, not Manhattan) and student loans take up about half of the other paycheck. You can quit bitching about making 50k now if you don’t mind. If i was living where I went to college (Atlanta) and making what I know my firm pays there (49k), I would be living quite well.

    • BigTex

      All sarcasm aside, what was your motivation for making the move to NYC?

  • Guest

    working for a B4 in NY means you can later move to any state and be considered a top worker. the rest of you are bums, you know it, i know it, your bosses know it. no one works harder than NYers.

    • World’s best accountant

      no one is more arrogant either

      • Bigtex

        calm down its sarcasm

    • guest

      yea that’s why cliff lee didn’t sign with the yankees.

  • take your check and run

    Why would you expect $50,000 when second-years are only getting $1-3 more than that, and there’s a class between you?