Friday, July 18, 2008

People who are worse than dopers.

So if you know me at all, you know I'm usually fundraising for something, usually children or cancer, or children with cancer.

One of the charities I've supported in the past is the Food and Friends Dining Out for Life campaign. I missed it this year since it was the same day as my last surgery, or really close to it. They also have a bike ride they hold sort of like the MS bike ride.

Anyways, their mission is preparing and delivering meals to people who are fighting serious illnesses like AIDS or cancer. And to qualify you essentially have to be below the poverty line. A very worthwhile cause.

Now I had checked into their finances when I first started volunteering for them. I don't really want to work with anyone who has an overhead of more than about 20%. I had asked about this, and was told theirs was running about 23% because they just moved into a larger facility in DC and that number should come down in the future.

Or maybe it was just the astronomical paycheck they were cutting for their executive director:

Chief's Pay Criticized As Charity Cuts Back
By Philip Rucker
Washington Post Staff Writer
Thursday, July 17, 2008;

Food & Friends, a nonprofit organization that provides meals and other nutritional services to homebound HIV-AIDS and cancer patients across the Washington region, is scaling back its services, citing declining donations and rising fuel and food costs.
The cuts come as the District-based charity is facing criticism from some donors, AIDS activists and nonprofit group watchdogs, who say the compensation awarded to the group's longtime chief is too high.

Food & Friends paid Executive Director Craig M. Shniderman $357,447 in salary and benefits last year, and Shniderman, 60, said his salary has increased 4 percent this year. "Food & Friends compensates all of the staff appropriately, and that compensation is not, shall we say, fluctuated according to the momentary circumstances," he said.

There is no legal limit to how much tax-exempt charities can pay their executives, but two charity experts who reviewed Food & Friends' federal filings at the request of The Washington Post said they believed Shniderman's compensation to be unusually high relative to the organization's size.
"It appears excessive in relation to other nonprofits in related fields," said Daniel Borochoff, president of the American Institute of Philanthropy.
Shniderman's pay is substantially higher than the top salaries at many comparable area charities and has risen steadily from $145,000 in 1998, according to federal tax filings reviewed by The Post.

Food & Friends' board of directors, to whom Shniderman reports, defended his compensation, citing his decades of experience in social services and his role as chief fundraiser and manager of the nonprofit group, which has an $8 million annual budget and a staff of 58.
"We are lucky to have him, and we should pay him at the top of the range in order to incentivize him and retain him. And that's what we've done, and we think it's completely justified," said Christopher Wolf, a past president and current member of the charity's executive committee.
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. He said he has not considered taking a pay cut.

Many similar area groups pay their executives less, according to those organizations' most recent federal tax filings. At Capital Area Food Bank, whose $33 million budget is about four times that of Food & Friends, president and chief executive Lynn Brantley received $127,756 in salary and benefits. At Bread for the City, which has a $3.9 million budget, Executive Director George A. Jones received $102,627. And at D.C. Central Kitchen, which has a $6.7 million budget, President Robert Egger received $81,457.
The Whitman-Walker Clinic, a nonprofit group that has a $22 million budget and is the region's largest community-based provider of HIV-AIDS medical services, paid its then-top executive, Roberta Geidner-Antoniotti, $169,524.
Shniderman's salary is comparable to those of the top executives at some AIDS and food nonprofit groups in New York and San Francisco. But many of those organizations are larger, and they are in cities with higher costs of living.

"This is way out of whack, and the board really ought to have a heart-to-heart conversation with him," said Doug White, a nonprofit management adviser and author of "Charity on Trial," who reviewed the group's records at The Post's request.
Shniderman's pay is set every few years by the board of directors, which hires an independent consulting firm, James E. Rocco and Associates, to advise it.
In a memorandum yesterday, Rocco wrote that Shniderman's compensation falls between the 50th and 75th percentile of salaries in the competitive labor market and reflects Shniderman's experience.
Food & Friends received three stars out of four from the online watchdog Charity Navigator, largely because the group has reported relatively low overhead costs.
Shniderman's compensation sparked an outcry last month, after the charity announced it was scaling back services, including putting new patients on a waiting list and reducing the number of meals provided to family members of ill patients.
Since then, the Washington Blade, a gay-oriented newspaper, published an article detailing Food & Friends' cuts that included criticism of Shniderman's salary. And gay rights activist and blogger Michael Petrelis has seized on Shniderman's pay in several provocative postings.
"He has no shame about taking yet another increase in compensation while people with AIDS are having nutritional services and food cut," Petrelis said from his San Francisco home. "As a person with AIDS, I'm appalled by this."
Peter Rothberg, a D.C. businessman who said he has donated to Food & Friends, was also disturbed by Shniderman's salary. "I feel like nobody should be getting rich off of a charity," Rothberg said.
But William Z. Goldstein, a former board president at Food & Friends who still donates to the charity, said Shniderman is an "amazing administrator."
"His compensation on its own merit seems high," Goldstein said. "But I think one needs to look further into some of his additional responsibilities or achievements."
Wolf and Shniderman, who was hired as executive director in 1995, said the cuts are unrelated to Shniderman's pay.
"We're not cutting back because of our executive director's compensation, I can tell you that," Wolf said.
This year, Food & Friends received about $300,000 less in federal AIDS-related funds allocated by the D.C. government than it did last year, Shniderman said. Wolf said the charity hopes to resume its full level of service.
© 2008 The Washington Post Company

Really? I call bullshit. How on earth can you deny a terminally ill economically disadvantaged person services and live with receiving over a third of a million dollars in salary?!!!

In all fairness here is their (non)response:

Dear Supporter,
You may have read recent press coverage of nonprofit executive compensation. Here at Food & Friends, we are proud of our financial practices. It is our mission to strategically maximize the number of people we serve while ensuring the best quality service for our clients. We take budgeting and the setting of salaries very seriously, undertaking a long and detailed process to determine appropriate and competitive compensation for each staff position. The Board of Directors rigorously reviews the quality of the work of our Executive Director, Craig Shniderman. Unlike many organizations, our board brings in a highly-regarded national consulting firm to conduct a very focused review to ensure that Craig’s salary is in line with that of other, comparable nonprofits. Since 1995, when Craig joined us, Food & Friends has grown from the basement of a church, serving 995 people annually, to a service that will provide more than 850,000 meals this year from a new $9 million kitchen and distribution center – all of which occurred, and in large part was made possible, through Craig’s tireless leadership. Our budget has grown from $2.2 million to $8.2 million, allowing us to serve more people each and every year. Craig is an executive director of the highest quality, and we have taken steps to ensure that he stays at Food & Friends.Food & Friends works hard to ensure that administrative expenses are very low. Fully 78.92% of all money raised goes directly to caring for those facing life-challenging illnesses in our community. Likewise, we leverage the support of more than 6,500 volunteers each year to stretch every dollar we raise. Of course none of what we do at Food & Friends would be possible without the support of our community of committed donors and volunteers, for which we are truly grateful.We know that there are many competing interests for your charitable dollar -- and those dollars are even more meaningful in this challenging economy. We pledge to continue to be good stewards of your confidence and support and to continue to provide the highest quality nutrition services, with compassion and love, to our friends and neighbors in need.

Should you have any further questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact a member of our staff or me:

John Barnes , Deputy Executive Director for Program & Development, 202.269.6870

George Bednar , Deputy Executive Director for Finance & Administration, 202.269.6838

Lisa Bandera , Communications Director, 202.269.6875

Thank you for your continued support of Food & Friends,
Robert Hall III

President, Food & Friends’ Board of Directors


Needless to say, I won't be supporting them again anytime soon. The saddest part is that it's the clients who will pay for the board's bad judgment.

1 comment:

Rainmaker said...

I worked for a year for a non-profit. The waste I saw was astounding. Unbelievable. I sat through meetings where folks said "We need to spend $500K in the next 3 hours - otherwise the money will disappear" - of course not a single cent went to the foster kids. Sad too, so much of the money could have gone to foster kids if it wasn't wasted on overhead.