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October 4, 2021

Where Does $100 to the Southern Poverty Law Center Go?

by Anne Paddock

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) was established in 1971 as a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (3) advocacy organization specializing in civil rights and public interest litigation.

Based in Montgomery, Alabama, the SPLC has 13 independent voting members on its governing body although 15 are listed on the most recent Form 990 (2019 for the year ending October 31, 2020), 9 (60%) of whom are male while 6 (40%) are female.

In 2020, the SPLC reported total revenue of $133 million (compared to $117 million the prior year), most of which came from contributions, gifts, and grants ($108 million) and investment income and capital gains ($25 million). Note:  the SPLC had $543 million in net assets at the beginning of the year; $588 million at year-end.

Expenses totaled $97 million (including nearly $2 million in depreciation) with expenses categorized as follows:

  • $37 million (28% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $20 million (15% of revenue):  Postage, Printing, Etc
  • $13 million (10% of revenue):  Impact Initiatives (unclear what this actually is)
  • $ 8 million (6% of revenue):  Fees for Services (legal, lobbying, fundraising, etc)
  • $ 7 million (5% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $ 4 million (3% of revenue):  Case Costs
  • $ 4 million (3% of revenue):  Other Costs (advertising, etc)
  • $ 3 million (2% of revenue):  Grants
  • $ 1 million (1% of revenue):  Travel and Conferences

As illustrated above, SPLC spent $97 million – about $37 million less than the organization received, which resulted in allocating the unspent revenue to the general fund.  At year-end, the net fund assets were $588 million, up from $543 million at the beginning of the year.

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

$100:  Revenue

-$ 28:  Compensation

-$ 15:  Postage, Printing, Etc.

-$ 10:  Impact Initiatives (unclear what this actually is)

-$  6:  Fees for Services

-$  5:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  3:  Case Costs

-$  3:  Other Costs (advertising, etc)

-$  2:  Grants

-$  1:  Travel and Conferences

-$ 73:  Total Expenses

 $ 27:  Excess Revenue:  To General Fund

As illustrated above, SPLC spent $73 out of every $100 in revenue received with $39 out of every $100 spent on compensation, fees for outside services, and case costs and $33 out of every $100 on general office and administrative expenses.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2019 for the year ending October 31, 2020), click here.

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