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You may have heard that there’s a bit of a campaign going on for the world’s worst job. For whatever reason, the process of electing the leader of our country’s government drags on like Titantic. Right around, erm, now you’re probably ready to gouge your eyes out with a rusty spoon every time you see an ad for a candidate or debate. Unfortunately we’re powerless to stop it, thanks t ycle.
ANYWAY, one of the more useful things we learn during this process is where the money comes from and who it goes to. Now, you may be screaming, “Koch Brothers!” or “George Soros!” and while they can afford to throw around some cash, these stories are old hat and are best left to political bomb throwers with jostling jowls.
For our purposes of informing you, dear GC readers, we’ll give you the lowdown on what kind of cash people from the largest accounting firms are throwing around and who they’re throwing it to. Accounting Today has a full report out today based on data available from the Federal Election Commission and here are the highlights:
• Ernst & Young – E&Y donated the most cash, with personnel contributing more than $89,000. 18% went to President Obama, Mitt Romney received 39% and Rick Perry 37%. Personally, I feel like this money would be better spent throwing it at people in Albany.
• Deloitte – Total of $57,490 in donations. Mittens received 41%; Obama 37%.
• PwC – $36,520 total donations. Romney received 51%; Obama 48%.
• KPMG – The one Obama stronghold. The President received 47% of the total $15,000 in donations. Romney received 32%; Perry 17%.
• Grant Thornton – Obama doesn’t win. GT peeps gave $23,050 and 97% went to Mitt Romney.
What about the other candidates? Well, Newt Gingrich received a grand total of zero dollars from anyone at these accounting firms. Ron Paul received less money than Jon Huntsman. Yes, I know you’ve never heard of him. It’s this guy. Google Rick Santorum just for fun. And check out Michelle Bachmann’s manicures. That’s about all you need to know.
So who gets your imaginary contributions? I imagine most of you out there in Internetland have no plans to fork over any of your meager bonuses to a Presidential candidate but IF YOU DID, who would it be? And feel free to discuss your firm’s generosity or political leanings as you see fit.
Administrative expenses are a part of any non-profit’s overall operating expenses and though donors generally give to charity with the hope that their contributions will help fulfill the organization’s mission as opposed to cover SG&A, Charity Navigator has a top ten of the worst offenders when it comes to admin expenses. Let’s take a look, shall we?
10: Center for Individual Rights 46.1%
9: Changed Lives 47.4%
8: Vision New England 48.7%
7: Charleston Area Medical Center Foundation 48.8%
6: National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame 55.1%
5: Cherokee National Historical Society 58.2%
4: Union Rescue Mission Little Rock 62.1%
3: National Council of Negro Women 64%
2: Boys Choir of Harlem 66.3%
1: American Tract Society 68%
For its last available income statement through Charity Navigator, the American Tract Society brought in $2,194,730 and spent $1,615,847 on administrative expenses, compared to $711,854 in program expenses and $47,210 in fundraising expenses. This is twice what the charity spent the year previous on admin expenses.
The American Tract Society’s mission is to distribute religious literature to spread its message. Well actually its mission is officially “to make Jesus Christ known in His redeeming grace and to promote the interests of vital godliness and sound morality, by the circulation of Religious Tracts, calculated to receive the approbation of all Evangelical Christians. The mission of ATS is to provide relevant tools for presenting the gospel.”
Perhaps someone needs to say a prayer to St Matthew asking for a little accounting help.
By comparison, similar charity Bibles for the World, based in Colorado, spent only 6.4% of its $4,215,202 in revenue on administrative expenses in the same period.
The second worst offenders on the list, the Boys Choir of Harlem, spent $140,787 out of $299,729 in total revenue on administrative expenses in 2007. At that point, the charity was nearly $4 million in the red and has since ended. The group spent 30 years bringing the joy of music to at-risk inner-city youth and the choir had performed for sitting presidents since Lyndon Johnson.
Would-be donors are welcome to peruse Charity Navigator for detailed information on just about every charity in the country before making donations, lest that $100 feel good gift end up paying mostly for secretaries and prime office space.
Despite many arguments that the extension was bad legislation, it cruised through Congress and was quickly signed by the POTUS and now the window is closing fast.
For those of you that are able to itemize deductions and you’re looking for a little extra deduction for ’09, the countdown is at t-minus two days.
If you are considering a last minute donation, A) what the hell have you been waiting for? B) you’re in a bit of luck because the deadline has a little bit of wiggle room, as Kay Bell tell us, “If you charge your donations to a credit card before the end of February, that counts even if you don’t get or pay the your credit card bill until next month or later.”
For those of you that don’t trust machines and are cutting a check, you best drop it soon if you want it to hit your ’09 return, “don’t send a check dated Feb. 28 on March 15 and claim it…if a tax examiner looks at your statement and sees the check didn’t clear until the last half of March, your deduction will probably be disallowed.”
Oh and it’s cash only. Your clothes that were originally meant for your garage sale this Spring are generous but not eligible for the extension.
On a related note, part of Stephen Chipman’s blog post from this week announced that Grant Thornton had raised approximately $140,000 that will be split between the Red Cross and the Salvation Army. Thumbs up GT.
2009 Haiti donation deadline Feb. 28 [DMWT]
There has been lots of donations made to several organizations since last week’s earthquake in Haiti and Wyclef Jean’s Foundation, Yele Haiti was one of the most prevalent charities raising funds.
As you may or may not be aware, there has been a good deal of coverage of the foundation’s financial problems and this has caused many to think twice about which charity they donate to.
After all the criticism, Gawker now has video of Wyclef Jean admitting that his charity, Yele Haiti, has made “mistakes”. These mistakes range from late filing of its tax returns to the foundation paying expenses on behalf of Jean’s production company (go to The Smoking Gun for more details including the 2006 Form 990).
From a tax standpoint, if you donate and you itemize, you can take the deduction (AGI limits apply and you best keep those receipts), however, as some have pointed out, choose wisely. It is natural to want to donate in times of crisis and if you want that money to go to its best use, then be do some research and make sure you know how the money will be spent.
Wyclef Jean Charity’s Funny Money [The Smoking Gun]