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December 13, 2019

Where Does $100 to Big Dog Ranch Rescue Go?

by Anne Paddock

Big Dog Ranch Rescue (BDRR) is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) whose mission is to “provide shelter, care and affection to homeless dogs of all breeds and adopt them out to loving homes.” In addition, the Loxahatchee Groves, Florida-based organization provides education and community outreach about dog care and the importance of spaying and neutering. BDRR is the largest no-kill 33-acre cage-free rescue in the southeast United States with an annual goal of saving 5,000 dogs a year.

Some key information about BDRR include:

  • BDRR was established as a non-profit in 2009.
  • In 2017, BDRR reported total revenue of $5.6 million (up from $3.6 million in 2016). Most revenue came from contributions, gifts, and grants.
  • As of year-end 2017, BDRR had $6 million in net fund assets, which is up $2 million from the beginning of the year. This appears to be due to a capital campaign to improve and expand the campus.
  • BDRR’s primary assets are land, building, and equipment ($7.7 million). The largest liability is a $2 million mortgage,
  • BDRR has 171 employees.
  • No employee received more than $100,000 annually.
  • The Statement of Functional Expenses (Part IX) on the Form 990 reports total fundraising expenses were less than $50,000 but the Statement of Revenue (Part XIII) on the Form 990 shows the organization spent $365,000 on expenses related to fundraising events. This discrepancy is because BDRR netted the expenses out in the Statement of Revenue (they raised $1,025,000 million from these events, spent $365,000, and netted $660,000 in revenue). In other words, total fundraising expenses were about $415,000 ($365,000 + $50,000).  Most of the time, fundraising expenses related to fundraising events would be insignificant but in small non-profits that raise less than $10 million, expenses related to fundraising events are more significant simply because they are a larger portion of revenue when a non-profit raises $10 million versus $100 million.

Expenses can generally be viewed two ways:  by broad general category (program services, management and general expenses, and fundraising) or by specific line item category (i.e. compensation, transport costs, medical and veterinary care, office-related expenses, etc). Both are beneficial with the former providing an overall general idea of where revenue is spent and the latter approach giving more detail (except that a majority of fundraising costs are omitted because they were netted out).


Total expenses were $3.6 million (64% of revenue) and were categorized as follows:

  • $2.0 million (36% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $1.0 million (18% of revenue):  Medical and Vet Care, Transport Costs, Dog Food, Dog Supplies, etc.
  • $0.4 million (7% of revenue):  Office-related Expenses (i.e. office, IT, telephone, postage, utilities, repairs, etc)
  • $0.2 million (3% of revenue):  Misc and Other Expenses (i.e. interest, depreciation, bank fees, travel, etc)

As illustrated above the two largest expenses are compensation and costs related to the care of the dogs. 171 employees were compensated $2 million which equates to an average compensation of $11,700 each (a very low average compensation).

The unspent revenue – $2 million (36% of revenue) went into the general fund which increased from $4 million at the beginning of the year to $6 million at year-end.

Using the above information, every $100 in revenue was spent as follows:

$100:  Revenue

-$ 36:  Compensation

-$ 18:  Medical and Vet Care, Transport Costs, Dog Food, Dog Supplies, Etc.

-$  7:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  3:  Misc and Other Expenses

-$ 64:  Total Expenses 

 $ 36:  Remaining Revenue:  To General Fund


BDRR is a 10-year old non-profit focused on saving dogs, caring for them, finding them homes, and educating the public on dog care and the importance of spaying and neutering. Consequently, their costs are primarily in staff who take care of the dogs and costs related to taking care of the dogs (i.e. medical, food, supplies, etc). No employees were highly compensated (defined as more than $100,000).

About 10% of revenue was spent on office-related expenses and other expenses.

BDRR appears to be also focused on capital expansion and growing the endowment as evidenced by allocating $2 million of the $6 million raised to the general fund.

Although fundraising costs appear to be low ($50,000), fundraising expenses were actually $415,000 because $365,000 of fundraising expenses were netted out with only the net revenue shown for fundraising events.  Had revenue been increased to reflect total revenue (increased by $365,000 to about $6 million) and the $365,000 been included in expenses (increased by $365,000 to about $4 million), then about $7 of every $100 was spent on fundraising.

To read a copy of the IRS Form 990 (2017), click here

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