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November 1, 2022

Where Does $100 to Research America Go (2021)?

by Anne Paddock

Research America is a tax-exempt, non-profit 501 (c) (3) based in Arlington, Virginia (close to Washington, DC – the lobbying capital of the country) that “advocates for science, discovery, and innovation to achieve better health for all.”  Their mission is to “gain public awareness of the benefits to humankind of medical research,” even though the public has a vast awareness of the benefits of medical research.”

Research America actually appears to be a lobbying group with a very specific agenda (they call themselves a membership organization but all members have to be approved by the Board of Directors) presenting itself as a non-profit, but what that specific agenda is remains unclear – and dues represent only about 10% of revenue.

Research America has 34 voting members (board members) of its governing body (board of directors), of whom 33 are independent.  24 of the 34 (71%) board members are male while 10 of the 34 (29%) are male.

Research America is a very, very small non-profit that raised $10.4 million in 2021 (compared to $4.4 million in 2020 and $3.9 million in 2019) most of which came from three sources:  contributions, gifts, and grants ($7.9 million), membership dues ($1.3 million) which is unusual in a 501 (c) (3) because the organization is not a trade association or union , and the national forum ($500,000) – a 3-day virtual event in 2021.

Expenses total $4.4 million (40% of revenue) in 2021 which can be categorized as follows:

  • $2.9 million (28% of revenue):  Compensation
  • $0.4 million (4% of revenue):  Office-Related Expenses
  • $0.9 million (9% of revenue):  Fees for Services*
  • $0.2 million (2% of revenue):  Other Expenses

*These fees are primarily classified as “other fees” which appears to be for speakers at the annual forum.

As illustrated above, the largest expense is for compensation.  30 employees received $2.9 million in compensation, which equates to an average compensation of $97,000.  The most highly compensated employee is Mary Wooley, the CEO (who as served as CEO since 1990) who received $526,274 in 2021 (compared to $549,872 in 2020).

At year-end 2021 Research America reported net assets of $9 million, compared to $3 million at the beginning of the year.  Historically, Research America has raised about $4 million annually. However, in 2021, revenue jumped to more than $10 million (from contributions, gifts, and grants and specifically from a $5.4 million contribution from one unnamed person). Research America did not drastically increase expenses during this period allowing the organization to allocate the vast majority of revenue to the general fund.

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

 $100:  Revenue

-$ 28:  Compensation

-$  4:  Office-Related Expenses

-$  9:  Fees for Services

-$  2:  Other Expenses

-$ 43:  Total Expenses

 $ 57:  Remaining Revenue:  To General Fund

As illustrated above, revenue is primarily used to compensate staff and office-related expenses with the majority allocated to the general fund in 2021. In the words, $43 out of every $100 received paid the organization’s expenses while $57 out of every $100 was added to the general fund.

In summation, Research America has been around for about 30 years and is a very small membership organization whose board must approve members, although the vast majority of revenue comes from contributions, gift, and grants.  The organization historically raised about $4 million annually until 2021 when revenue increased to $10 million (primarily through the generosity of an unnamed person).

To read the IRS Form 990 (2021), click here.

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