Houston Non-Profits and Guidestar.org

A friend of mine who works as a Director of Development at a private elementary school in Houston told me about an interesting site for researching non-profit organizations in the United States called Guidestar.org, and I thought it was worth sharing here. Guidestar.org is basically a website that indexes non-profit organizations through their annual IRS Form 990 filing. The IRS form 990 is a document that describes the financial state of a tax-exempt organization every year, and they are all made available to the public at some point after being processed by the IRS.

Form 990 and Form 990-EZ are used by tax-exempt organizations, nonexempt charitable trusts, and section 527 political organizations to provide the IRS with the information required by section 6033.

An organization’s completed Form 990, Form 990-EZ, and the Form 990-T of 501(c)(3) organizations is available for public inspection as required by section 6104. Schedule B (Form 990, 990-EZ, or 990-PF), Schedule of Contributors, is open for public inspection for section 527 organizations filing Form 990 or Form 990-EZ. For other organizations that file Form 990 or Form 990-EZ, parts of Schedule B may be open to public inspection. See the Instructions for Schedule B for more details.

Some members of the public rely on Form 990, or Form 990-EZ, as the primary or sole source of information about a particular organization. How the public perceives an organization in such cases may be determined by the information presented on its return. Therefore, the return must be complete, accurate, and fully describe the organization’s programs and accomplishments.

- from http://www.irs.gov/instructions/i990-ez/ar02.html#d0e54

My friend explained to me that every organization is required to write down their top five employees by salary along with the salary amounts and weekly work hours, but only if the salaries are above $50,000. I can’t seem to find that exact statement in the rules document, but this is close enough:

Part V-A — Current Officers, Directors, Trustees, and Key Employees
List each person who was a current officer, director, trustee, or key employee (defined below) of the organization or disregarded entity described in Regulations sections 301.7701-1 through 301.7701-3 at any time during the year even if they did not receive any compensation from the organization. If person is listed in Part V-A, then list all of that person’s compensation from the organization in Part V-A, whether received as a current officer, as a former officer, or in another capacity (for example, independent contractor).

Line 75c. Compensation from Related Organizations

Answer “Yes,” to this question if any of the organization’s listed officers, directors, trustees, key employees, highest compensated employees, or highest compensated professional or other independent contractors received aggregate compensation amounts of $50,000 or more from the organization and all related organizations (as defined below). For this purpose, compensation includes any amount that would be reportable in columns (C), (D), and (E) of Form 990, Part V-A, if provided by the organization. See General Instruction X regarding due diligence requirements to determine business relationships.

- from http://www.irs.gov/instructions/i990-ez/ar02.html#d0e7297

Anyways, after learning a little about form 990, I decided to research a couple of notable Houston non-profits to see what kind of relative scale they operate at, and of course, how much the top guys are raking in. This list is in no particular order, and if you think of any other good ones to add, feel free to write in the comments (you’ll have to register for a free account at guidestar.org in order to get access to the search function).

Museum of Fine Arts Houston (MFAH) – Founded in 1956 – 2007 Form 990

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, is the largest art museum in America south of Chicago, west of Washington, D.C., and east of Los Angeles.

Interesting numbers for 2007

  • Total Revenue – $80,742,375
  • Total Expenses – $81,915,123
  • Total Assets – over $1,000,000,000

Highest Paid Employees

  • Peter Marzio – Director – $888,173
  • Gwendolyn H. Goffe – Associate Director – $355,384
  • Paul Johnson – Associate Director – $202,128
  • Andrea Di Bagno Guidi – Chief of Paintings – $144,873
  • Edgar Peter Bowron – Audrey Jones Beck – $148,740

Highest Paid Contractors

  • Sinapps – Web Design – $254,065
  • Wentworth, Hauser, and Violich – Website Services – $251,536

I guess I’ll stop there for now. Someone else needs to make sure I read that correctly, but it really does look like the MFA spent over $500,000 on their website in a year. I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments, but something tells me they overpaid.

Orange Show Foundation – Founded in 1980 – 2007 Form 990

The Orange Show Foundation preserves works of extraordinary imagination and celebrates the artist in everyone (They also run the annual Houston Art Car Parade, and they own the Beer Can House!).

Interesting Numbers

  • 2007 Revenue – $1,756,576
  • Revenue from the Art Car Parade – $87,549
  • Revenue from the Beer Can House – $3,361
  • Executive Director Salary – $55,300

Houston Zoo – Founded in 1922 – 2007 Form 990

Our Zoo is like a small city with over 4,500 permanent animal residents. We provide them housing, meals, medical care, and even education! Annually, we serve 1.5 million guests.

Interesting 2007 Numbers

  • Revenue – $31,199,857
  • Expenses – $20,195,594
  • Payroll – over $10 million
  • CEO Salary – Deborah M Cannon – $245,102
  • Director of Development Salary – $160,603
  • Advertising through KHOU – $129,552
  • Consulting Services Paid to Hines Interest Limited Partners – $1,842,660
  • Architectural Costs – PJA Architects – $964,150

I’m not sure what constitutes consulting services for the zoo, but these guys definitely got the majority stake in the payouts for that year. I suppose when you make $15 million a year from admissions and merchandise, and another $15 million from donations and grants, you can afford to hire expensive consultants.

Houston Arboretum and Nature Center – Founded in 1967 – 2007 Form 990

The Houston Arboretum & Nature Center operates the 155 acres at the western edge of Memorial Park under a contract with the City of Houston Parks and Recreation Department. The Department provides assistance with forestry and pays our utilities. All other support comes from earned income, contributions and investment income.

Interesting 2007 Numbers

  • Revenue – $1,285,739
  • Payroll – ~$500,000
  • Executive Director Salary – $74,775
  • Number of Visitors in 2006-2007 year – over 200,000

Howard Hughes Medical Institute – Founded in 1953 -2007 Form 990

HHMI is a nonprofit medical research organization that engages in the direct conduct of research. The Institute’s original charter states, “The primary purpose and objective of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute shall be the promotion of human knowledge within the field of the basic sciences (principally the field of medical research and medical education) and the effective application thereof for the benefit of mankind.”hhmi

Interesting Numbers

  • Dividends and Interest Earnings – $519,670,749
  • Total Revenue – $2,584,003,303
  • Expenses – $794,934,590
  • Net Assets – $18,633,041,477 (holy cow, that’s in billions!)
  • Payroll – $198,462,990
  • Average Compensation for Investment Managers – ~$5.2 million
  • Robert J Kolyer – Managing Director of Absolute Returns – $790,249
  • Audio Visual Expenses – $1,735,814

That last one is not based in Houston, but I think we have enough of a connection to Howard Hughes that it deserved a mention. And the origins of the HHMI is a really fascinating story.

Anyways, before this post gets overly long, feel free to search for other non-profits and learn about their finances for free. I’d love to hear about your interesting finds in the comments.

Posted: Wednesday, February 18th, 2009 at 11:16 pm
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  1. Is the Houston Endowment considered one of these? When I have time, it would be interesting to check their numbers out.

  2. Houston Endowment Inc. is a private foundation that makes grants to a broad range of charitable organizations operating in Houston, Texas.

    Founded in 1937

    2006 Form 990 – http://www.guidestar.org/FinDocuments/2006/746/013/2006-746013920-038b3bf7-F.pdf

    Interesting Numbers:
    Expenses – $96 million
    Total Assets – $1.6 billion
    Grant Director Salary – Ana Leal – $117,000
    Oil and Gas Royalties (???) – $5,377,483

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  1. [...] NeoHouston blog has a great post this morning that works as a tutorial in how to use IRS form 990s — and the privately run Web site [...]

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