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July 16, 2019

Executive Compensation at the Nature Conservancy (2017)

by Anne Paddock

The Nature Conservancy, a non-profit 501 (c) (3) based in Arlington, Virginia whose purpose is to conserve water and land, continues to spend less than the organization raises (in 2017, $1.2 billion in revenue – a 20% increase over 2016 – while only $900 million in expenses were reported (they basically spent $77 out of every $100 in revenue reported) and grow the endowment which increased from $6.2 billion at the beginning of the year to $6.6 billion at year-end while increasing staff (in 2015, the organization reported having 3,875 employees while in 2017, the Nature Conservancy reported having 4,099 employees).

The 4,099 employees were compensated $399 million which equates to an average compensation of $94,400.  558 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation with the 35 most highly compensated employees listed below:

  • $818,838:  Mark R Tercek, Director, President, and CEO
  • $785,410:  Stephen C Howell, Chief Financial and Administrative Officer (former)
  • $697,759:  Jim Asp, Chief Development Officer
  • $639,683: Brian McPeek, Chief Conservation Officer
  • $572,150:  Charles Bedford, Regional Director
  • $475,501:  Mark Burget, EVP and Regional Director
  • $474,000:  Joseph J Keenan, Managing Director
  • $429,523:  Seema Paul, Managing Director
  • $413,593:  Wisla Heneghan, COO and General Counsel
  • $407,822:  Glenn Prickett, Chief External Affairs Officer
  • $393,683:  Thomas Nelses, VP and Associate Chief Development Officer
  • $391,257:  Justin Adams, Global Managing Director, Lands
  • $388,785:  William Ginn, EVP Global Conservation Initiatives
  • $385,308:  Marianne Kielberg, Regional Managing Director
  • $376,032:  Hugh Possingham, Chief Scientist
  • $364,237:  Maria Damanaki, Global Managing Director, Oceans
  • $358,308:  Jan R Mitten, Chief Philanthropy Officer, New York
  • $354,797:  Guilio Boccaletti, Chief Strategy Officer and Global Managing Director, Water
  • $343,994:  William Ulfelder, New York Executive Director
  • $339,415:  Michael Sweeney, State Director
  • $335,583:  Heather Tallis, Chief Scientist/Strategy Innovation
  • $330,844:  Dietmar Grimm, Managing Director
  • $325,082:  Santiago Gowland, EVP
  • $323,977:  Pascal Mittermaier, Managing Director
  • $322,903:  David Banks, Regional Managing Director
  • $318,334:  Aurelio Ramos, Regional Managing Director
  • $315,072:  Michael Tetreault, Chief People Officer
  • $312,854:  Janine Wilkin, Chief of Staff and Acting Chief Marketing Officer (former)
  • $308,553:  Peter Wheeler, VP
  • $296,638:  R Geoffrey Rochester, Director Marketing
  • $293,609:  Lynne Scarlett, Co-Chief External Affairs Officer
  • $280,250:  Angela Sosdian, Director Development and Gift Planning
  • $277,228:  Robert McKim, Division Director
  • $269.435:  Addison Dana, VP and Chief Investment Officer
  • $256,206:  Karen Berky, Division Director

25 of the 35 (71%) of the most highly compensated employees are male while 10 (29%) are female. Of the 10 most highly compensated employees, 8 are male while 2 are female.

The IRS Form 990 (2017) reports the Nature Conservancy paid for first class or charter travel and provided a housing allowance or residence for personal use.  See Schedule J, Part III, Supplemental Information of the 990 for more information on these expenses.

There was also a loan made to a “Shirley and Harry Com” (the last name was cut off on the 990) in the amount of $10 million (the balance is $10 million) at 0%. The borrowers are related to a Mr. Hagey, a director. There is no other information on this transaction.

Conata Ranch LLC (who is related to BOD member Vincent Ryan) was paid $1,049,000 for 1,660 acres of land ($632 per acre).

Summary and Key Points

The Nature Conservancy continues to garner wide public support with the organization raising $1.2 billion in 2017. With expenses totaling about $900 million, the organization was able to put $300 million towards the endowment, which means that if you donated $100 to the Nature Conservancy in 2017, they spent $77 and retained $23.  The endowment increased from $6.2 billion in the beginning of the year to $6.6 billion at the end of the year (primarily due to unspent revenue and unrealized gains on investments). In summary, the Nature Conservancy is successful at raising significant revenue, spending less than they bring in, and increasing their endowment.

The organization employed 4,099 staff in 2017, which is about 224 more employees than in 2015. These staff were compensated an average of $94,400.  There are two areas in which the Nature Conservancy can improve:  the gender makeup of the most highly compensated employees is heavily weighted in males and should have more females. In addition, that the organization spends money on first class plane tickets is offensive for a 501 (c) (3), even if the organization has the funds to do it. Non-profits by nature have a duty to spend dollars as wisely as possible and first class plane tickets are rarely, if ever justified.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2017) for the year ending June 30, 2018, click here.

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