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October 6, 2021

How $100 is Spent at Turning Point (2020)

by Anne Paddock

Turning Point USA (Turning Point) is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) 3 that advocates conservative principles on high school, college, and university campuses and in convention centers that focus on attracting high schoolers, college students, and young adults ages 15-25 who they often refer to as activists.

Established in 2012 by Charles Kirk, the President who received nearly $430,000 in compensation, flew first class, and had a discretionary spending account (as do all officers), according to the Form 990 (2019 for the year ending June 30, 2020) submitted to the IRS.

Turning Point is overseen by 4 voting members of the governing body, 3 of whom are independent. All directors are male.

Total revenue in 2020 was reported to be $40 million (compared to $29 million the prior year), of which $28 million came from contributions, gifts, and grants. $1 million came from a related organization while $10 million came from fundraising events.

Expenses were reported to be $38 million but $17 million of the expenses (42% of revenue) included a “grant” and assistance to an affiliated organization:  Turning Point USA Endowment (which operates out of the same office as Turning Point), which if excluded means expenses totaled $21 million (53% of revenue).  The $21 million in expenses can be categorized as follows:

  • $8 million (20% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $7 million (18% of revenue):  Travel and Conventions
  • $2 million (5% of revenue):  Printing, Publications, Videos, Digital
  • $2 million (5% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $1 million (3% of revenue):  Fees for Services (i.e. primarily  fundraising)
  • $1 million (2% of revenue);  Advertising and Promotion

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

$100:  Revenue

-$ 20:  Compensation

-$ 18:  Travel and Conventions

-$  5:  Printing, Publications, Videos, Digital

-$  5:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  3:  Fees for Services

-$  2:  Advertising and Promotion

-$ 53: Total Expenses

 $ 47:  Remaining Revenue

-$ 42:  Grant to Turning Point USA Endowment

$  5:  Remaining Revenue:  To General Fund

The above information reveals that Turning Point USA is primarily engaged in convention center events with speakers brought in to speak to the “activist” 15-25 year olds, with most of the expenses listed above tied to these events either directly or indirectly.

425 (up from 272 the prior year) employees received $8 million in compensation which equates to an average compensation of $19,000 – very low. 4 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation:

  • $429,727:  Charles Kirk, President
  • $152,532:  Joshua Thifault, Adv Strategic Director
  • $152,168:  Tyler Bower, Asst Secretary, COO
  • $128,499:  Justin Olson, Asst Treasurer, CFO

The 4 most highly compensated employees are male.

Turning Point paid for first class and/or charter travel. See the Form 990, Schedule J, Part III, Supplemental Information for details on this expense.

14 independent contractors received more than $100,000 in compensation with the five (5) most highly compensated listed as follows:

  • $538,198:  Rally Forge, LLC, of Queen Creek, AZ for digital education
  • $351,897:  Lionrock Ventures, of Los Angeles, CA for fundraising/event planning
  • $349,470:  Mosaic Event Productions, of Phoenix, AX for video production
  • $295,119:  FX Entertainment of Arlington, TX for video production
  • $262,184:  Shaffer Security Group, of Irving, TX for security

The bottom line is that Turning Point is a tax-exempt non-profit organization that primarily engages in conducting conventions targeting 15-25 year olds to hear speakers that support a conservative agenda while paying the President of the organization nearly $430,000 annually, and also paying for first class travel/charter travel.  If you donated $100, then $42 of your donation went to Turning Point USA Endowment while $53 out of the $100 went to pay organization expenses; $5 of the $100 was added to the general fund (think savings account).

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