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January 13, 2021

10 Key Things to Know About Samaritan’s Purse

by Anne Paddock

Samaritan’s Purse – based out of Boone, North Carolina – is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (3) established in 1970 by Bob Pierce who died in 1978. W. Franklin Graham (son of Billy Graham) became Chairman, President, and CEO of Samaritan’s Purse in 1979 and has held the position since although he is also an evangelist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association.

Samaritan’s Purse is a nondenominational Christian organization that provides “spiritual and physical aid to hurting people around the world.”

Key points to know about Samaritan’s Purse are summarized as follows:

  • The organization raised $734 million in 2019, of which $243 million were non-cash contributions (primarily shoe boxes).
  • Samaritan’s Purse spent $669 million in 2019 with the three largest expenses being grants ($271 million) to overseas recipients (primarily shoebox gifts), compensation ($156 million),  and materials ($111 million).
  • Samaritan’s Purse had more than $700 million in their net fund balance at FYE 2019  concentrated in publicly traded securities, cash, and land, buildings, and equipment.
  • The Chairman, President and CEO, William Franklin Graham III received total compensation of $722,403 in 2019. It is important to note Mr. Graham also manages the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and other organizations.  Twelve other executives were paid a total of $3.7 million, with an average compensation package of $308,000.
  • The organization reports first class or charter travel, travel for companions, housing allowance or residence for personal use, and personal services.
  • There are 18 voting members of the governing body, of which 12 appear to be independent. 16 are men, 2 are women.  The President, CEO’s brother Roy Graham is a Board member, as is Jane Austin Lynch, a family member, and Melvin Graham, a cousin. In addition, there appears to be 2 other related board members for a total of 6.
  • Most of the organization’s work is concentrated in Africa:  the largest recipients (primarily non-cash grants consisting of shoe boxes filled with toys, school supplies, bibles, etc) by region include Sub-Sahara Africa, South and Central America, and Asia:  East and South.
  • The organization employed 3,305 (about 300 more than in 2018) employees at a total cost of $156 million (average compensation of $47,200 in 2019).
  • Samaritan’s Purse spent $55 million on fundraising in 2019.
  • The Executive Committee has 3 board members, 2 of whom are independent. They can act on matters of business and financial concern (except for matters precluded by the by-laws).

According to the IRS Form 990 (2019) the organization raised $734 million in 2019, of which $243 million (33% of total revenue) were non-cash gifts – mostly shoebox gifts (a shoebox filled with toys, hygiene items, bibles, and school supplies) that were collected at more than 4,000 locations. The remaining revenue – $477 million (67% of total revenue) mostly came primarily from cash contributions, gifts, and grants.

Samaritan’s Purse reported $669 million in expenses (not including $20 million in depreciation) which represents 91% of total revenue. The remaining funds – approximately $50 million – were added to the fund balance which grew from $650 million the year before to $702 million at year-end after unrealized losses, joint costs, and changes in assets were deducted.

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

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