Friday, August 15, 2008

Biz Journal: AIDS Executive's Pay
Higher Than Colleagues

The editor of the Washington Business Journal has today printed my letter responding to a column last week from members of the board of directors at Food & Friends, in which the authors made weak arguments attempting to justify a high six-figure salary for the executive director. Of course, I'm glad the debate about this issue continues and hope that donors to and clients of this service agency let the board members know Shniderman's pay is excessive.

This is the text of my letter in the Washington Business Journal this week:

What Price Friends?

Dear Editor:

As a person with AIDS who has long chronicled how some AIDS service organizations divert too much money from vital programs, and instead spend money on avaricious compensation packages for executives, I know the great lengths board members will go to in order to kill the messenger that exposes questionable allocation of nonprofit dollars.

Craig Shniderman, executive director of Food & Friends, was compensated $357,447 in 2007 for his services managing the group’s revenue of $7.6 million.

Leaders of his board claim that “Shniderman gets paid similarly to what his peers at similar agencies around the U.S. get paid.” This claim is easily disproved by looking at San Francisco’s Project Open Hand, a hot meals program for people with AIDS and other ill people, that had $10.9 million in revenue and paid its executive director $182,880.

In short, the leader of a similar group, in another city with a higher cost of living
earned slightly less than half of what Shniderman took home last year — even though his organization raised more than $3.3 million more in revenue than Food & Friends did.

By receiving such a large salary, Shniderman is cheating the charity’s clients — with the overt support of Robert P. Hall III and Chris Wolf, the current and past presidents, respectively, of Food & Friends’ board.

Cutting Shniderman’s compensation would go a long way towards helping persons with AIDS and showing average donors, who don’t make anywhere near $357,000 annually, that the 501(c)(3) puts the needs of economically disadvantaged patients first. Should the nonprofit experience a fundraising fallout, clients will suffer because of the misplaced priorities of the board.

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