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December 8, 2020

Where Does $100 to the March of Dimes Go (2019)?

by Anne Paddock

2019 was not a great year for the March of Dimes and yet, they continue to endure.  Just six years ago, the March of Dimes had $75 million in net fund assets and was raising nearly $200 million annually but they were spending more than they raised.  Since then, the revenue has declined and the organization went into a negative net fund position because they were spending $8-$27 million more than they raised annually, had to fund a pension/post retirement fund for employees, and had losses on investments. Things were not looking good by 2016 so the organization brought in a new president in 2017 following the retirement of the longtime president.

But revenue continued to decline (from $169 million in 2016 to $164 million in 2017 to $141 million in 2018 to $130 million in 2019).  Staff cuts were made (the organization had 1,513 employees in 2016 compared to 856 in 2019), first class travel finally appeared to be eliminated (the IRS Form 990 in 2017, 2018, and 2019 shows staff did not fly first class, as in previous years), and the organization cut expenses and did not spend more than they raised in 2018 or 2019. And, yet the organization is still in a negative net asset position (-$8 million in 2019 compared to -$12 million in 2018).

In 2019, revenue was $130 million (nearly all of which came from contributions, gifts, and grants), $11 million or 8% lower than in 2018, despite the use of multiple professional fundraisers and heavy advertising in the Wall Street Journal.

Expenses totaled $126 million and were categorized as follows:

  • $65 million (50% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $26 million (20% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $19 million (15% of revenue):  Fees for Services (primarily other with no detail provided)
  • $ 8 million (6% of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 5 million (4% of revenue):  Other Expenses
  • $ 3 million (2% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences

As illustrated above, compensation is the single largest expense for March of Dimes. 856 employees were compensated $65 million, which equates to an average compensation of $76,000.  The most highly compensated employee was Stacey  D Stewart, the President and CEO who received $562,933. Office-related expenses (i.e. office expenses, occupancy, equipment and furniture, telecommunications) used up 20% of revenue followed by fees for services which totaled $19 million, of which $16 million was for “other services” described as contracted services for programs and management.

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

$100:  Revenue

-$ 50:  Compensation

-$ 20:  Office-Related Expenses

-$ 15:  Fees for Services

-$  5:  Other Expenses

-$  2:  Travel and Conferences

-$ 92: Subtotal: Compensation, Office, Services, Travel, and Other Expenses

 $  8:  Revenue Remaining

-$  6: Grants

$  2:  Revenue Remaining:  To Fund Assets

As illustrated above, $92 out of every $100 was used to pay staff, cover office expenses, pay for contract services for programs and management, cover other expenses (no detail provided), and pay for travel and conferences. $6 out of evert $100 was awarded in grants.

So, if you donated $100 to the March of Dimes in 2019, most ($85) of your donation went to pay staff, office, and outside vendors for program and management services.

Even though the March of Dimes spent $4 million less than they raised in 2019, the organization was not able to come out of a negative net asset position.  However, they were able to reduce the negative net asset portion from a -$12 million to a -$8 million. And, finally it is important to note the single largest liability ($66 million) is accrued pension/retirement benefits for employees, which is notable for a non-profit.  In other words, the March of Dimes has not adequately funded the accrued pension/retirement funds for its employees and is digging out of a self-inflicted hole.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2019), click here.

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