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Posts from the ‘Special Topics’ Category


Daisy: 2007-2020

Last Sunday, my dog, Daisy passed away.  When I first started writing this essay about losing her, the focus was on everything that happened in the last 17 hours of Daisy’s life:  from the moment she had the first seizure to the moment she died in my arms. The story was so sad that I just cried as I read it and decided to start over. Of the 13 years, 4 months and 2 days Daisy lived on this earth, the last day didn’t define who she was; her life was so much more than what happened at the end.  Her death was tragic but her life was anything but.

Daisy was born in Interlaken, Switzerland on January 1, 2007 ringing in a new year with her arrival. We were “allowed” to purchase Daisy because we were living in a small town outside Geneva at the time and her breeders couldn’t show her (she had faults, namely her tear ducts were blocked). To us, she was just perfect: a Pembroke Welsh Corgi that looked like a chubby little fox.  Her name was chosen by our daughter because she loved to eat daises in the spring fields. Read more »


Executive Compensation at ALS (2018)

The ALS Association (ALSA) is a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) based in Washington, DC whose mission is “to lead the fight to cure and treat ALS through research, advocacy, and care services.” Prior to 2014, ALSA raised about $20 million annually, allocated about $7 million to grants, and had about $20 million in net fund assets (which is also referred to as the endowment).

When the Ice Challenge went viral in 2014, ALSA received $115 million, a windfall for the organization that was primarily used to strengthen the endowment but to also increase grants awarded since research grants are key to understanding ALS in hopes of preventing, treating and curing the disease.

Since 2014 and subsequent to the Ice Challenge, ALSA has raised about $25-$30 million annually and allocated about $20 million annually to grants and about $10-$15 million to other expenses.  The net result has been the erosion of the endowment from $120 million in 2014 to $90 million in 2018.  There has not been significant investment income or gains on the sale of assets to offset the “overspending.” Read more »


I Want Miguel Almaguer’s House

One of the strangest things about the coronavirus is how the pandemic has allowed the public into the private homes of people whose voices we may have recognized but whose names we were not as familiar with, until their faces were broadcast into everyone’s family room from their very own personal residence.

Allow me to clarify something:  I am not interested in celebrities. I don’t follow any of them on social media and probably don’t know who most of them are anyway since I rarely watch television. Instead, I tend to follow friends and family, plant-based restaurants (Vedge, Nix), and restaurants that excel at making nutritious but delicious food (Le Botaniste, Christopher’s Kitchen).  I also appreciate organizations that make beautiful things, like Italian dinnerware (Match Pewter) English roses (David Austin), and posh hotels (Firmdale).  But, when I started watching the nightly news over the past month, I noticed  the backgrounds were different and much more interesting because the newscasters were broadcasting from their homes. Read more »


Executive Compensation at the NRA (2018)

The National Rifle Association of America (NRA) is a non-profit 501 (c) (4) organization or what many people refer to as an membership advocacy organization that fights tirelessly for our second amendment rights and pays their executives very well while also paying for first class or charter travel, travel for companions, health or social club dues or initiation fees, gross up payments and tax indemnification, and provides housing allowances or housing for personal use.

The most recent IRS Form 990 (2018) reports the organization employed 816 individuals who were compensated $63.9 million, which equates to an average compensation of $78,300. 122 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation while the 16 most highly compensated key executives received $13.4 million dollars in 2018: Read more »


Executive Compensation at the Robin Hood Foundation (2018)

The Robin Hood Foundation (RHF) – a 501 (c) (3) based in New York City – is an organization that primarily awards grants to organizations fighting poverty by providing food, shelter, and healthcare and by helping people lift themselves out of poverty. They do this primarily by awarding grants (in 2018, the organization collected $133 million in revenue and awarded $173 million in grants – $40 million more than the organization raised).

In 2018, RHF had 135 employees who were compensated $18 million, which equates to an average compensation of $136,000. However, only 54 employees received more than $100,000 in compensation. The 12 most highly compensated individuals were: Read more »


Why Isn’t Anyone Talking About Wet Markets and the Coronavirus?

We are being inundated with information about the coronavirus…what it is (a virus), what it does (primarily attacks the respiratory system), how fast its spreading (too fast), whose most susceptible to the danger of the virus (the elderly and health compromised), how to get tested (still unclear and varies depending on location), and how the healthcare system is treating it (primarily with supportive care so the immune system can do its job) but hardly anyone is talking about how the coronavirus started and more importantly, what can be done in the future to avoid another world pandemic. Read more »


10 Things to Know About the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA)

When people talk about “Big PhRMA,” they are referring to the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA) organization – a non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (6). In short, PhRMA is a trade association that represents the big pharmaceutical companies (34 according to the list of members on the PhRMA website) in the United States.

The amount of information publicly available on PhRMA is overwhelming in both the amount and complexity so the purpose of this post is to summarize key information that reflects the organization’s purpose, mission, and power, which is generally regarded as formidable. Read more »


How Donations are Spent at the American Council on Science and Health (ACSH)

The American Council on Science and Health (ACSH) sounds like a very important non-profit with all the key buzz words – American, Council, Science, and Health – in its name but in reality ACSH is a very small (raises about $1 million annually and has a $1 endowment) non-profit, tax-exempt 501 (c) (3) whose “mission is to ensure peer reviewed, evidence-based science reaches the public, the media, and the decision makers who determine public policy” except that they don’t according to some. Read more »


Executive Compensation at Make-A-Wish (2018)

The Make-A-Wish Foundation (MAW) was established in 1980 in Phoenix, Arizona to grant the wishes of children diagnosed with critical illnesses. Today, the national headquarters and founding chapter is still in Phoenix but the organization has 62 chapters throughout the United States and 39 affiliates in nearly 50 countries worldwide. Although each of the affiliates raises funds for their respective chapter, the MAW headquarters also makes a grant annually to the affiliates, along with setting policies and assisting the chapters in making their wishes.

The MAW headquarters raises about $100 million annually, spends about $100 million annually of which $55 million is spent on grants to affiliates, and has about $43 million in their general fund, which is often referred to as their endowment.  The single largest expense at MAW headquarters (after grants) is compensation ($21 million) for the 271 employees, which equates to an average compensation of about $75,000. Read more »


Executive Compensation at the International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA)

The International Dairy Foods Association (IDFA) is a Washington, CD-based non-profit tax-exempt 501 (c) (6) – a business association – representing “90% of the milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, and cultured products, and dairy ingredients produced and marketed in the United States and sold throughout the world.”

The IDFA reported total revenue of $7.8 million for the year ending June 30, 2017 (down 23% from the prior year when $10.2 million was reported).  Revenue came primarily from two sources:  membership dues ($4.6 million) and training and education programs ($2.2 million).  Expenses were $8.5 million and consisted primarily of three:  compensation ($5.3 million), office-related expenses ($1.6 million), and conferences and trade shows ($1.3 million). Read more »