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August 2, 2020

Executive Compensation at Comic Relief

by Anne Paddock

Comic Relief, Inc. (formerly known as “America Giving Back”) is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) headquartered in New York City.  Comic Relief, Inc. was formerly known as “America Gives Back” and is doing business as Comic Relief USA.  Got that?  Initially launched in the 1985, Comic Relief was first established in the UK by entertainers to raise funds for poverty stricken areas of the world. Several years ago (2006) , the organization established a separate organization – Comic Relief, Inc. dba “Comic Relief USA” in the USA.

So how does Comic Relief help alleviate poverty?  By raising funds and making grants to other organizations that operate social welfare programs, both foreign and in the USA, similar to what United Way does: collect revenue, vet organizations, and award grants (except that United Way has local organizations that focus on awarding grants to local charities  or local chapters whereas Comic Relief is one organization in the US and focuses on awarding grants to both foreign and domestic organizations).

In 2018, Comic Relief raised $48 million, almost all of which came from contributions, gifts, and grants.

Expenses totaled $51 million ($3 million more than they raised), of which $42 million was awarded in grants and $9 million spent on organization expenses. The largest organization expense was compensation. 31 employees received nearly $4 million in compensation which equates to an average compensation of $121,000.  However, only 12 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation. The 10 most highly compensated employees were:

  • $310,254:  Janet Scardino, CEO
  • $242,978:  Mary Corigliano, SVP Brand and Marketing
  • $230,561:  Richard Scott, SVP Grants and Fundraising
  • $225,692: Kristin Ellington, SVP Operations and Finance
  • $191,109:  Lauren Spitzer, VP Fundraising and Development
  • $183,015: Maxwell Felder, VP Corporate Partnerships
  • $169,070: Elizabeth Breslauer, Director of Schools and Youth
  • $163,167:  Karen Brown, VP Grants Program
  • $157,590:  Mitchell Hansen, Director Digital
  • $143,690:  Hayley Winter, Director Sport and Comm Eng

The above 10 employees received $2 million in 2018.  7 of the 10 most highly compensated employees are female while 3 are male.

8 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation. The five most highly compensated independent contractors were:

  • $862,297:  Patriot Communications of Los Angeles, CA for donation processing
  • $494,759:  Media Storm of Brattleboro, VT for media placement
  • $198,142:  Frankfort Kurnit Klein and Selz of New York, NY for legal work
  • $190,817:  Havas Sports and Entertainment of New York, NY for creative services
  • $148,000:  Go Creative Agency of Brooklyn, NY for creative services

Comic Relief reported that the organization did not pay for first class or charter travel, travel for companions, health or social club dues or initiation fees or personal services. In addition, the organization did not provide tax indemnification or gross up payments, a residence for personal use or housing allowances, or discretionary spending accounts.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2018), click here.

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