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August 26, 2022

Executive Compensation at the Special Olympics (2020)

by Anne Paddock

Rarely is there a disagreement about the importance of funding the Special Olympics but in years past, the Education Secretary has proposed cutting government assistance to the organization, asserting that the non-profit is better supported by philanthropy.  Before anyone makes up their mind about this issue, they should know the financial facts about the organization, which include revenue, expenses, executive compensation, and the fund balance (which many refer to as the endowment) and ask if the Special Olympics needs  government contributions?

The bottom line:  The Special Olympics raises about $125-$135 million annually (of which the government provides 415-$25 million), spends about $15 million less than they raise allowing the organization to grow net assets which are currently at $110 million.


The Special Olympics reported $126 million in revenue in 2020 (compared to $136 million in 2019 and $136 million in 2018), of which $25 million (or 20% of total revenue) came from the government. $87 million (69% of revenue) came from contributions, gifts, and grants, $7 million (5% of revenue) from accreditation fees, conferences, and meetings, and $8 million (6% of revenue) from investment income and royalties. In other words, 80% of revenue came from non-government sources.


In 2020, expenses totaled $110 million (note: $16 million of revenue was not spent) and were categorized as follows:

  • $32  million (25% of revenue):  Grants
  • $32 million (25% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $13  million (10% of revenue):  Postage, Printing, Adv/Promotion
  • $ 5  million (4% of revenue):  Donated Goods
  • $15   million (12% of revenue):  Fees for Services (acct, legal, investment, fundraising, other)
  • $ 7  million (5% of revenue):  Office and Supplies
  • $ 2   million (2% of revenue):  Travel
  • $ 5   million (4% of revenue):  Other

As illustrated above, the largest expense categories were grants (primarily to separate state Special Olympic 501 c (3)’s) and compensation for the 240 employees who were compensated $32 million, which equates to an average compensation of $133,000.


46 individuals received more than $100,000 in compensation with the 11 most highly compensated individuals listed below:

  • $515,502:  Mary Davis, CEO
  • $381,401:  Alicia Bazzano, Chief Medical Officer
  • $343,114:  Kelli Seely, Chief Marketing/Development Officer
  • $300,910:  John Dow, Jr., Chief Program Operations
  • $291,249:  Angela Ciccolo, CLO/Secretary
  • $2667,832:  Mike Meenan, CFO
  • $263,562:  Steve Borrelli, Chief HR Officer
  • $257,313:  Anthony Wylie, RPMD, SONA
  • $250,719:  Louis Lauria, Chief of Games and Competition
  • $228,564:  Freda Fung, RPMD, SOEA
  • $196,287:  Dipak Natali, RPMD SOAP

As listed above, the CEO received $515,502 in 2020.

Among the 11 most highly compensated individuals, 6 are male and 5 are female.

36 independent contractors were compensated more than $100,000 in 2017.  The five most highly compensated independent contractors were reported to be:

  • $13,486,662:  Production Solutions of Vienna, VA for fundraising and mailing services.
  • $ 2,100,000:  Fusesport, Inc. of Colorado Springs, CO for software development.
  • $ 1,537,336:  The Heritage Group of Little Rock, AR for fundraising services
  • $   978,544:  Blackbaud of Atlanta, GA for database management and analytics
  • $   866,908:  Blue State Digital of New York, NY for fundraising services

It is important to point out Form 990 (in the Statement of Functional Expenses) reports $13 million (which includes $2 million in staff compensation and other support costs) was spent on fundraising expenses in 2020.  However, the list above shows that 3 independent contractors were paid nearly $16 million so there appears to be a discrepancy.


In 2020, the Special Olympics raised $126 million but spent $110 million, leaving $16 million allocated to the fund balance. At the beginning of the year, the Special Olympics had $93 million. After adding the $16 million of unspent revenue and gains and changes in assets, the fund balance was $110 million at year-end.


The Special Olympics is a well-respected organization that primarily relies on non-governmental contributions and grants and other income. Only 20% ($25 million) of the income in 2020 came from the government. The organization raised $126 million in 2020 and spent $110 million, leaving $16 million to go to the fund balance which had $110 million at year-end.

The average compensation of the 240 employees is $133,000. The executives are well compensated with the 12 most highly compensated individuals receiving $196,287 – $515,502.

Although a political hot potato and very polarizing, the financials don’t support the need for government funding.  The organization is able to raise sufficient funds to cover program expenses and grow the net assets without government assistance.

To read the IRS Form 990 (2020) , click here.

Read more from Non-Profits

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