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April 27, 2021

How Revenue is Spent at the National Safety Council

by Anne Paddock

The National Safety Council (NSC) is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) 3 organization focused on public safety and specifically, preventable injuries and death in the workplace and on the road in the United States.

Based in Itasca, Illinois, NSC is a member organization (which is unusual for a 501 (c) 3) with more than 50,000 members who reportedly pay $300-$400 annually. However, membership dues only accounted for about 14% of revenue (according to the most recent Form 990 tax return filed for the year ending June 30, 2018), or $8 million. $8 million divided by 50,000 equals an average annual membership fee of $160, which means there are less members than reported or the members are paying significantly less than the membership cost posted.

In 2018, total revenue was $59 million (compared to $59 million the prior year). Workplace safety programs and workplace initiative programs each generated $17 million (29% of revenue for each), – or 58% of total revenue. Contributions, gifts, and grants generated $7 million (of which $3 million were government grants), or 12% of revenue.

Expenses totaled $56 million (not including $1 million in commissions) and can be categorized as follows:

  • $30 million (51% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $ 7 million (12% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $ 5 million (8% of revenue):  Commissions
  • $ 4 million (7% of revenue):  Fees for Services (primarily other fees with no detail provided)
  • $ 4 million (7% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences
  • $ 3 million (5% of revenue):  Advertising and Promotion
  • $ 2 million (3% of revenue):  Printing and Publications
  • $ 1 million (2% of revenue):  Other Expenses

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

$100:  Revenue

-$ 51:  Compensation

-$ 12:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  8:  Commissions

-$  7:  Fees for Services

-$  7:  Travel and Conferences

-$  5:  Advertising and Promotion

-$  3:  Printing and Publications

-$  2:  Other Expenses

-$ 95:  Total Expenses

 $   5:  Remaining Revenue:  To General Fund

As illustrated above, the largest expense for NSC is compensation for the 507 employees who received an average compensation of $59,000.  49 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation with the most highly compensated employee reported to be Deborah P Hersman, the President and CEO who received $724,726.

The next largest expense was office-related expenses and commissions. $5 million in commissions were paid but it is unclear who the commissions were paid to and for what.  $4 million was spent on traveling conferences which appears high given total revenue ($59 million) but this agency is focused on the sharing of information so conferences may be a key way of communication.

NSC has $31 million in net assets (up from $29 million at the beginning of the year).

In summary, NSC is selling safety which explains why compensation is the largest expense for the agency.  Research, training, and education require staff, as does the dissemination of information.  The organization’s primary source of revenue is through the programs offered followed by membership dues and contributions, gifts, and grants.

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

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