Sunday, October 24, 2010

HRC: 17% Revenue Drop;
Solmonese Salary Freeze

After a week of pure obstinacy for no good reason over my public records request for their 2010 IRS 990 filings, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), finally complied with federal law and made the HRC filing, along with the one for the HRC Foundation (HRCF), and their hot-off-the-presses annual report available for public inspection on their web site.

My hunch is that because of the bad news about plummeting revenue, HRC wanted to wait as long as possible before allowing prying eyes to view the documents. The documents were published earlier today.

Let's go over the highlights of what's in the three documents made available.

1.) The annual report shows that revenue for 2009 was at $45,792,310, and for 2010 it was $37,918,133. The difference comes to $7,874,177, which is a drop of 17%.

The lousy economy certainly played a role in that steep fall, but my gut also says a significant portion of the decline is due to more gays not donating to HRC.

2.) For the org's president Joe Solmonese and other top leaders, their salaries have been frozen for two-years, according to the HRCF 990:

In 2009, prior to the start of the new fiscal year, the board appointed a committee of independent directors to look at the president's compensation before his contract was renewed. In reviewing compensation, the committee reviewed salary surveys of comparable nonprofit organizations in the Washington, DC, area and data available from the 990s of other comparable nonprofit. [...]
The committee's findings were presented to the full board, which adopted its findings in March of 2009. The same committee described in 15A that examined the president's compensation also looked at the current compensation of the organization's officers and key employees.
The same set of materials and procedures were used to assess the compensation of the officers and key employees, and minutes were kept of the meeting. The findings were presented to the full board, which adopted its findings in March of 2009.
Based on that review, the board approved a two-year contract for the president. As a result of changes in the economy, all compensation for the for other officers and key employees was frozen in FY 2010. Consequently, the organization believes that the 2009 analysis remains applicable in 2010. [Emphasis added.]

So the decisions to keep Solmonese on for an additional two-years and to hold executive salaries at 2008 levels were made more than a year-and-a-half back, but we're only now learning it. Frankly, this information should have been made known to the community in March 2009, because HRC owes us more comprehensive transparency about its changes at the executive level.

I find it curious that top salaries didn't fall 17%, as did revenue. Heck, they didn't drop one bit, showing no real sacrifice on this front from Solmonese and colleagues. Maybe they cut programs 17%, to deal with the shortfall?

3.) The HRC 990 on page 2 claims the org has a membership of more than 750,000, and the same page offers this accomplishment:

HRC continued broad-based efforts to build support for a fully-inclusive ENDAby creating the Business Coalition for Workplace Fairness, hosting 300 clergy members in Washington, DC, for Congressional lobbying, coordinating in-district lobbying by 1,000 HRC members and educating and training faith communities about gender identity issues in priority districts.

How pathetic is it to tell the IRS that your org has hundreds of thousands of members, and you can only persuade 1,000 of them to engage in local lobbying of their House and Senate representatives? Very pathetic admission on HRC's part.

4.) Solmonese still flies first-class on occasion.

5.) I've compared the total compensation for the top executives regarding the freeze, and there appears to small-to-medium discrepancies with 2009 and 2010 salaries, but there are no major increases. Here are the 2010 figures for some of the honchos:

Joseph Solmonese

Cathy Nelson

David Smith

Martin Rouse

Susanne Salkind

Alison Herwitt

James Rinefierd

Whatever the salaries or annual revenue, the Human Rights Campaign is still the Worst.Gay.Group.Ever.

I'm looking forward to watching if other gay and progressive bloggers, or straight and gay media, pick up on the release of the documents through my request to HRC. We need lots of eyes going over the HRC IRS 990s with fine tooth combs, and for the org to explain the serious plummet in revenue and how it affects their agenda and operations.


Anonymous said...

OMG what will Joe do, no raise for the piss poor job he has been doing, however he still can fly first class. which any public funded Org should be using coach to save money...

SNT said...

Just love it, however our community as a whole will never fully question the actions of HRC, or that of Joe.. Joe knows to keep is job DADT, Enda, and SSM must not pass in the near future... they must be dragged out for years..

I also that Pams house, Joe and Towleroad won't even touch this subject, since HRC is a god in their eyes...

Anonymous said...

finally some forced transparency (reluctant of course). would it be possible to see report for 2008 when the economy started to tank? i would be curious to see how HRC declines in revenue compares with other nonprofits.

The HRC membership number has always been inflated. Last i checked it was not actual annual annual paying members (like most organizations track membership) but it includes any person that has donated as little as $1 EVER.

Anonymous said...

I believe that if Solmonese's salary were directly proportional to HRC's revenue, it could create problems with the IRS. As a nonprofit, HRC shouldn't generally pay its executives based on how much money HRC makes.

Sapphocrat said...

SNT: Actually, I came here via a direct tweet from Pam's.

In any case, the thing that makes me laugh is the 750,000 membership number. I'm sure my name is still on their rolls as active, and so is that of my long-ago ex -- HRC keeps thanking me (and my ex) for our membership, in begging letters addressed (to my great irritation) to both of us. I haven't even seen the bitch in more than 15 years! -- and I haven't made a donation since Cheryl Jacques was ousted.

Yep, when they call, I tell them why I'm not donating (again), and to please stop with the mailings. They never listen.

masaccio said...

HRC handles a whole lot of money. Its disclosures are very limited.

First, the accountants report and notes to financial statements are missing. This is minimal information for an understanding of the state of the finances.

Second, the fund-raising has fallen precipitously, but we don't know:
1. what programs were cut
2. why management thinks fund-raising collapsed
3. what management plans to do about the drop-off

Third, HRC has spent a lot of money on third-party fund-raising. Who are these people, specifically are there connections between them and management? Why is their work so poor? Is there any plan to evaluate their work and change providers?

Fourth, how does management evaluate the programs it runs? Are there specific milestones or deliverables from each program? How is allocation done among programs?

This kind of stuff isn't rocket science. These are minimal requests.

Anonymous said...

When we dropped as major donors this year, and explained whym all they said was "Have a nice day..." totally unconcerned about feedback from their members bout the direction the organization is taking.

I expect next year's report will show further drops.

gaylib said...

This is totally anecdotal, but I get the feeling HRC is reaching out to straight allies who are low information about how badly they've behaved. We know that they long ago stopped being a gay rights advocacy group to being a DNC advocacy group, but our families and allies still see the equal sign and think they're doing good for us. They also serve the purpose of creating propaganda for that same audience. We need a campaign to inform our allies of the truth. HRC no longer has the interest of our community in mind.

ISPCA said...

Ingrid Newkirk, CEO and founder of PETA, makes $ 32,000 a year.