Saturday, August 09, 2008

AIDS Group Protests Reporting Exec's $357K Pay

The current and past president of the board of directors of Food and Friends published yet another attack on me for exposing back in June that the head of the service organization is making $357,000, this time as an op-ed in the Washington Business Journal in response to an article it published last week.

On numerous DC and AIDS related web sites, the board and top executives at Food and Friends have spent an inordinate amount of time and energy lambasting me for reading their IRS 990 form and sharing figures from it on my blog, and with reporters. Typical nonprofit reaction when the greed is exposed: Kill the messenger.

The problem here is not me blogging about what an AIDS executive earns, and reporters writing stories. The issue is that the donating public in the Washington area didn't know about Craig Schniderman's high salary and supporters of the agency are expressing their displeasure over the compensation.

Even though I'm not happy the writers here attempt to portray me as on a rampage about my demand that Schniderman's salary be cut and the money instead diverted to better meals and supplements for people with AIDS, when all I did was blog on the subject and answer questions when Blade and Post reporters called, I'm pleased the issue is alive into its third month of media attention.

What is most disturbing about the board presidents' column is the last line:

Ultimately, it will be the clients of Food & Friends who will suffer from any fallout on fundraising caused by the unwarranted news flurry containing flawed and incomplete comparisons.

In other words, instead of attacking the real problem here, Schniderman's high pay, if it causes a fall in donations, the leaders of the board will inflict suffering, probably in the form of reduced meals and juices, on people with AIDS, just so the boss can make $357,000.

The shameless way in which Food and Friends puts one HIV negative man's compensation package over the needs of poor and sick people is disgusting. With "friends" like Richard P. Hall and Christopher Wolf, clients of this agency have much to worry about.

August 8, 2008
Washington Business Journal

Food & Friends Defends Salary
by Richard P. Hall III and Christopher Wolf
D.C.-based Food & Friends prepares and delivers 20,000 meals each week to people with life-challenging illnesses. Despite recent reports, the agency is not “cutting services to lower costs.” Cuts in federal funding have required Food & Friends to slow its rate of growth, meaning it cannot add new clients as quickly as in the past . . .

The executive director of Food & Friends is Craig Shniderman, a 35-year veteran of social work and nonprofits, who has served nearly 14 years in the job. Shniderman is the person who rescued Food & Friends in the mid-1990s from dire financial straits and moved the agency from the church basement to its current home by running a $9 million capital campaign . . .

So, last year, Shniderman received a salary of $270,290, as well as $31,318 in various insurances and a pension plan and $55,839 in deferred compensation . . .

Rocco Associates observed that: “Shniderman holds two master’s degrees (in educational psychology and social work) and has 26 years of experience as a chief staff executive in not-for-profit organizations . . . "

None of these facts fully justifying the compensation given to our skilled executive director seem to matter to a blogger from San Francisco, who recently went on a rampage against the salary. Moreover, as explained in an article in the Washington Business Journal, “How Much is Too Much?” (Aug. 1-7), that blogger’s campaign led to a story in the Washington Blade, and that led to a story in The Washington Post . . .

That blog-inspired reportorial trail led to the Washington Business Journal article that included a bare budget-based comparison of Shniderman’s compensation done by a firm called Abbott Langer.

Without any independent investigation, the Abbott Langer firm concluded Shniderman was being paid too much (“$150,000 above the average for groups with similar revenue”). The firm ignored the fact that Shniderman gets paid similarly to what his peers at similar agencies around the U.S. get paid — for a job that draws from a national labor pool.

Unfortunately, for some who simply read headlines or incomplete newspaper stories, there is the real potential for a backlash. Indeed, some of the e-mails lobbed into Food & Friends in response to the stories have been quite mean-spirited. Ultimately, it will be the clients of Food & Friends who will suffer from any fallout on fundraising caused by the unwarranted news flurry containing flawed and incomplete comparisons.

Robert P. Hall III is president and Christopher Wolf is past president of Food & Friends.


Supporter of Full Disclosure said...

It would seem only fair for you to reproduce the entire column by Hall and Wolf instead of making selective edits.

Michael said...

Fairness dictates that Craig cut his salary and that accountability activists not get bogged down in such minor matters as reprinting a full article.

Your writing reminds me of similar notes on City Paper and WPost sites, because you're skillfully diverting attention from the matter at hand -- greed, fully disclosed on the F&F IRS 900.

If you're so interested in full disclosure, why not get your buds at F&F to post the latest full IRS 990 for the group?

Anonymous said...

It's interesting that the Food and Friends Board is putting at issue Shniderman's background, including two master's degrees.

They of course, fail to mention Shniderman's guilty plea to stealing from a charity, the Montgomery County Jewish Community Center, in 1995 (see Washington Post, October 2, 1995).

Anonymous said...

Who is looking out for the best interest of the clients? Too much energy and time is being used to look out for the best interest of Shniderman. How can he or the BOD face the clients and donors in the face of all this.....

Anonymous said...

The type that want to profit from the donations at non-profits are just like the suits at the non-profit health insurance companies... they bleed the donations and funds, reducing service - and say they are worth, will get it, or will walk.

Well walk.
Service programs should be run by people in SERVICE to the clients in a way other than getting wealthy --- and yes $300,000 a year in America is wealthy when the average annual FAMILY income is 1/10th of that amount.