Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Lawmakers Seeking Cuts Look at Nonprofit Salaries

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.

Roxanne Spillett, the chief executive of Boys & Girls Clubs, was paid $988,591 in 2008, a year in which the organization took in $107 million. Dr. Jennifer Howse, chief executive of the March of Dimes, was paid a total of $627,104 by her organization, which raised $237 million.

Compensation also varies by type of nonprofit. Museum directors and hospital chiefs generally are better paid than leaders of other nonprofits. Median compensation among the organizations that participated in the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s annual survey examining pay at the wealthiest charities and foundations was $361,538 in 2008 — but the median compensation among hospital executives was $848,802.

There are no clear rules for the I.R.S. to assess pay at nonprofits. Organizations it questions can make their case using opinions from compensation consultants, among other things.

“These are done on a case-by-case basis and are heavily reliant on comparisons,” said Marcus S. Owens, a lawyer and former head of the division of the I.R.S. that oversees nonprofits.

Mr. Goings noted that during Ms. Spillett’s 14-year tenure as chief executive, the number of clubs had risen to 4,000 from 800 and the combined revenue of the national office and the local clubs jumped to $1.4 billion from $438 million.

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