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January 23, 2021

Where Does $100 to Paralyzed Veterans of America Go?

by Anne Paddock

The Paralyzed Veterans of America (PVA) is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) 3 based in Washington, DC (although the organization has 70 offices and 33 chapters throughout the country). Established in 1947, PVA has a core mission of vets serving vets, funding spinal cord research, and advocating for disability rights, according to their website. So, the question most donors want to know is:  how much of my donation goes to the organization’s core mission?  The answer:  less than half because the organization spent more than $45 million on a mail program to raise funds.

Key financial information reported by PVA to the IRS on the Form 990 (for the year ending June 30, 2019) include the following:

$92 million in total revenue was reported (compared to $112 million the prior year), most of which ($88 million) came from contributions, gifts, and grants.

Expenses totaled $88 million (95% of revenue) and can be categorized as follows:

  • $45 million (49% of revenue):  Mail Program
  • $23 million (25% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $ 6 million (7% of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 5 million (5% of revenue):  Fees for Services
  • $ 4 million (4% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $ 4 million (4% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences
  • $ 1 million (1% of revenue):  Advertising

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

$100:  Revenue

-$49:  Mail Program

$ 51:  Revenue Remaining

-$ 25: Compensation

-$  5:  Fees for Services

-$  4:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  4:  Travel and Conferences

-$  1:  Advertising

-$ 39:  Subtotal: Compensation, Fees, Office, Travel and Conferences, and Advertising

$ 12:  Revenue Remaining

-$  7:  Grants

$  5:  Revenue Remaining:  To General Fund

As illustrated above, the largest expense for PVA is an expense called “Mail Program” which is the primary way the organization raises funds. So, right off the top, $49 out of every $100 in revenue is spent on the mail program.

The second largest expense is compensation for the 301 employees who received $23 million, or an average compensation of $76,400.  32 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation with the most highly compensated employee, William Blake, the Executive Director receiving $236,828 in compensation.

$5 million was spent on fees for services provided by non-employees and most of these fees ($3.3 million) are described as “other” with no further detail provided. $9 million was spent on office-related expenses, travel and conferences, and advertising while $7 out of every $100 was spent on grants. Most grants were awarded to local chapters of PVA.  Of the grants listed on the Form 990, only about $1 million was awarded in research grants (or about 1% of revenue).

PVA spent about 95% of the revenue received in 2019, which allowed the organization to increase the net fund assets by adding the unspent revenue to the general fund. At year-end, the net assets toiled $61 million.

So, less than half of every $100 donation made (and that’s assuming every expense except “mail program” is considered an expense that helps vets help vets, is allocated to spinal cord research, and supports the advocacy of disabled veterans.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2018 for the year ending June 30, 2019), click here.

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