June 19, 2018

Non-profits

nonprofit accounting

A Different Bottom Line: Today’s Nonprofits Offer Challenging Work, Huge Employee Benefits

The temptation to pursue a big ticket job at a publicly-traded company is one that dangles above many accountants like the fruit of Tantalus–forever enticing, but just out of reach. And for some, the desire to be America’s Next Top CFO acts more like the sword of Damocles, hanging perilously overhead and threatening to doom […]

Non-Profit Involvement: You Give and You Get

You are involved in the community for all the right reasons. You are giving back and helping others. You’ve also heard it’s a path into the higher echelons of the local business community and a way to get business. How does this happen? WIIFM – What’s In It for Me?You are in the country club […]

What Does ‘Getting Involved’ at a Non-Profit Really Mean?

People are taught: “One way of getting new business is getting involved at a non-profit.” You should be getting involved for different reasons, specifically a belief in the cause and a desire to give back to your community,but it can lead to business. So what does “getting involved" actually mean? It doesn’t stop at joining. […]

People are Getting a Little Worked Up Over Proposed IRS Non-Profit Guidance

YOU SHALL NOT STIFLE MY CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO BE A PARTISAN GROUP PRETENDING TO BE A SOCIAL WELFARE GROUP! Richard Rubin points out this morning that the topic at hand — Guidance for Tax-Exempt Social Welfare Organizations on Candidate-Related Political Activities (REG-134417-13) — is generating quite the vocal buzz. This should come as no surprise […]

Any Accountants Looking for a Holiday Volunteering Opportunity Should Contact Occupy Wall Street Immediately

You may have noticed that the media coverage of Occupy Wall Street has died down quite a bit in recent weeks. With many Americans going into food-induced comas in late November and with the twilight of the football season fast approaching, several of our fellow citizens simply quit giving a shit every time someone got […]

Small Pennsylvania Town Sues the Fire Department Over Shady Accounting

I would expect more and more items like these in the news in the months and years ahead but that’s just my humble opinion.

Apparently commissioners in Lawrence Park Township, Pennsylvania are sick of messing around and would like an Erie County judge to appoint a custodian to handle the volunteer Lawrence Park Fire Department. On Friday, the township filed a petition, after a July 12th vote of 3-2 to go to court.

Via Firehouse.com:

The three commissioners are claiming the Fire Department is violating a township ordinance by not providing an accounting of how the department is spending township money. The commissioners are arguing a custodian should be in place long enough to bring the department in compliance with the law.

The commissioners and the Fire Department have been feuding over the department’s finances since 2009. The firefighters have said the department is fiscally sound.

The funny part of all this is that the fire department claimed part of the reason why their finances were so jacked up was the Form 990 they “never knew existed” according to department president Maureen Crotty. Apparently the township commissioners felt the lack of a 990 (which reveals any non-profit organization’s expenses and revenues and is required for all non-profits above $250,000) was one of many good reasons not to give the department more money.

So back in April, almost a year after the IRS said all required 990s better be in or else, the fire department was still waiting to get a completed 990 back from its newly hired accountant, who didn’t have time to fill out the simple form while also auditing the department’s financial records by request of the stingy township commissioners.

Back then, Crotty stated she hoped the finished 990 and audit would help repair the strained relationship between the fire department and the five-member board of commissioners. Guess that didn’t happen.

Non-Profits Get Picked On (And Deserve Some of It)

When budgets are tight, it only makes sense that non-profits would become targets since they tend to get the most free rides. We’ve seen it with this 990 push (kind of like 404(b) for < $75 million and new health care rules that require companies to send in 1099s for every vendor purchase over $600, it feels a little like bureaucratic busywork to me) and now non-profit executive compensation is in New Jersey tie’s crosshairs.

A provision in his state’s recently passed budget limits executive salaries at nonprofits that do business with the state.

Firedoglake foamed at the mouth over recent comments by Tom Coburn after he shot down $425 million in fresh money for the Boys and Girls Clubs. FDL appeared absolutely incapable of comprehending caps on non-profit salaries when for-profit CEOs earn “500 times” more than their non-profit counterparts.

On Capitol Hill, four senators this spring refused to approve a $425 million package of federal grants for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America after staff members looked at the organization’s tax forms as part of a routine vetting process and were surprised to learn that the organization paid its chief executive almost $1 million in 2008 — $510,774 in salary and bonus and $477,817 in retirement and other benefits.

“A nearly $1 million salary and benefit package for a nonprofit executive is not only questionable on its face but also raises questions about how the organization manages its finances in other areas,” said Senator Tom Coburn, Republican of Oklahoma.

We covered S.2924 back in March when Chuck Grassley wrote a nasty note asking for – gasp – accounting details. While I totally support FDL’s outrage towards for-profit CEOs, I have to remind them that we already have the accounting details of for-profit corporations; so if Jamie Dimon gets $42 bazillion a year, we can just dig into his financial statements to figure out why. Chances are assets > liabilities so he can do that (unless he’s asking for a bailout but I don’t recall hearing him ask in 2008). With the Boys and Girls Club posting a $13 million loss in 2008, President Roxanne Spillett still earned $593,926. You don’t think that might warrant a little investigation?

FDL goes on to wonder out loud if all non-profits are created equal:

If Senator Coburn is going to stagger down that path, arms flapping wildly at the injustice of these non-profit salaries, then by his reckoning, the NRA’s Wayne LaPierre should forego his $1,139,568 annual salary (as of 2008), and Robert Mazzuca of the Boy Scouts of America needs to pay back that $1,577,600 he received in 2009. (Note: Yaron Brook, President and Executive Director of the Ayn Rand Institute, only pulls down $350K a year. Methinks someone’s not living up to his objectivist potential.)

I’m all for reform but only when applied equally across the board. The alternative is letting the market decide by being an informed donor (using tools like Charity Navigator to see how much particular non-profit execs are making and how they are using their money). If you don’t believe in a non-profit’s compensation practices, don’t give them a thing.

The government can continue to do so without caring or it can get smart about the money that it does not have and start taking a closer look at how non-profits operate. If you ask me, the entire thing is a gaping hole of waste and confusion and you could possibly confirm that with anyone familiar with non-profit accounting.

Reno’s “Hot August Nights” Goes For-Profit and Skips Town?

Though the connection between the non-profit Hot August Nights organization that’s been putting on Reno’s biggest party for 24 years and the newly-registered for-profit Hot August Nights of Las Vegas is unclear, what is clear is that part of the event will be held in Long Beach this year due to “horrific” costs to put the event on in Reno.

Reno, if you don’t already know, is in pretty bad shape. I used to live there so I know that it always was but it’s in really bad shape right now. With the iconic Fitzgerald’s Hotel and Casino indefinitely boarded up directly under Reno’s “Biggest Little City in the World” sign as a direct result of the Corus Bank failure 1,500 miles away in Chicago back in late 2009, downtown looks more destitute than ever. I take full artistic license for use of the word “iconic.” This is Reno we’re talking about.


You’d think Reno city commissioners would want to encourage fun and leisure, mostly through the only event any of us with the big money to the West are familiar with (Hot August Nights) but all signs point to the city losing it.

On the same day paperwork was filed in Nevada to establish the for-profit, non-profit Hot August Nights officials announced part of the event would be held in Southern California in 2011.

There’s been a bunch of bitchfighting in Reno (and neighbor Sparks, who gets some of the tourism run-off for the event) and it continues.

We don’t expect you to be familiar with the Reno area (unless you happen to work for Deloitte or E&Y in town, though we don’t like those odds) so for a little background on Hot August Nights, it’s a yearly car show stamped as family fun for everyone. The event costs $700,000 to put on each year according to organizers who swear they aren’t looking to move the show to Long Beach in 2012.

The Reno Gazette-Journal breaks down the non-profit side:

In the 2004 tax year, Don Schmid, then listed as executive director, was paid $93,962 in salary.

On the nonprofit corporation’s 2008 income tax return, current executive director Bruce Walter is listed as collecting $256,890 in salary and $11,940 for a housing allowance, resulting in total compensation of $268,830.

Yes, I’m sure it’s the costs of putting on the event that are inspiring a move. Anyone been to a convention in Reno lately? It’s got to be the cheapest place in the country if you don’t count middle states. You’re telling me it’s cheaper to host the event in Long Beach?

For-profit Hot August Nights corporation created in Vegas [The Reno Gazette-Journal]

Nonprofits Could be Forced to Pay to Save the Postal Service

It’s difficult to find numbers that don’t contradict each other, some reports say nonprofits are doing better than expected in this uncertain economic environment while others insist it’s still rough out there, especially for organizations that rely on donations to get by. For nonprofits, it doesn’t matter how the year is going, it may soon cost more to send out those pleading donation mailers.

The Postal Regulatory Commission is looking at a 2 cent increase for first class mail, an 8% increase for periodicals (just what the doctor ordered for struggling print publications) and a 23% increase on parcels. While they have not specifically mentioned an increase in nonprofit mailer pricing, the PRC has already identified certain “underwater” mail classes, non-profit mail being one such case.


As is, authorized nonprofits get a price break of about 40% over commercial mail prices so you could see why a struggling USPS might go straight for non-profits when looking for additional revenue sources to close its $7 billion budget gap.

Overall, postal prices are expected to rise 4 – 5%, a huge jump from the legally allowed .6% the Postal Service can use to adjust for inflation. Seeing as how we supposedly haven’t experienced any inflation this year, the jump is that much more disheartening to mass mailers.

Not surprisingly, there’s a nonprofit set up to focus on postal issues around nonprofit mail and they’re all over it. Said Tony Cooper of the Washington-based Alliance of Nonprofit Mailers, the USPS delivery system “is a system that’s built to handle about 300 billion pieces of mail, and they’ve got about 170 billion, and it’s set to decrease. It’s basically twice as big as it needs to be. It’s that excess capacity and costs that are creating the need in their minds to do this.” Hear that, USPS? Cut the fat before you start going after the little guys.

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor. You can see more of her posts here and all posts on the CPA Exam here.

Non-Profits are Now Exempt from Political Contribution Rules (Well Three of Them at Least)

Out of millions of non-profit organizations in America, three have been hand-picked by the authors of the DISCLOSE Act, a House bill meant to bring transparency to political contributions.

The bill is inspired by a Supreme Court decision that overturned a cap on corporate contributions to political campaigns. So to compromise and soften the hard-ass bill a little bit, they threw in an exemption for certain non-profits that meet specific requirements.

They must have more than 1 million members, be at least 10 years old and receive no more than 15% of their contributions from corporations to receive this exemption. OK, how many non-profits could that be?


The NRA and 2 others (AARP and the Humane Society).

Reform at its finest, I guess.

Just a note, Charity Navigator doesn’t do the NRA for the following reason:

We don’t evaluate National Rifle Association.
Why not? We don’t evaluate 501(c)(4) organizations because they are allowed to spend a substantial portion of their revenue on lobbying our government and not every donation to them is tax-deductible. You may be interested in our evaluation for The NRA Foundation.

If you’re curious, “DISCLOSE” stands for Democracy Is Strengthened by Casting Light On Spending in Elections and I don’t think light is what we need in this situation. Companies, unions and other groups that spend more than $10,000 would be required to disclose donors who have given $1000 or more.

Why does this matter? Should lobbying groups really receive any tax deductions at all?

Adrienne Gonzalez is the founder of Jr. Deputy Accountant, a former CPA wrangler and a Going Concern contributor. You can see more of her posts here.