by Reid Fitzsimons (note: off to East Africa for several weeks, will complete this article upon return)
The other week I was checking out at the Dollar Tree when the cashier asked, “Do you want to donate a dollar to the Red Cross for Hurricane Harvey relief?” I replied with a resounding, though polite, “No.” What a cheap SOB one might say, to which I am sympathetic. I will, however, justify my lack of charity in this case with two reasons.
The first involves the generosity of the Red Cross as it applies to salaries for its upper echelon employees, as old as this argument might be. The IRS form 990 is the means by which tax exempt/non-profit groups report their financial statuses, which is publicly available. Looking at the Red Cross 990 for 2014, there are at least 14 people at the national level who receive well over $350,000 in salaries and other benefits. The three highest are the CEO (Gail McGovern) at $556,772, the President for Biomedical Services (Shaun Gilmore) at $554,236, and the Deputy Chief Investment Officer (Anne Shelton) at $526,685. Hence, a mere three employees of this benevolent non-profit charity receive $1,637,693 in compensation: there is big money to be had in the world of the mega charities. In Dec. 2012, apparently in response to some controversy, the Red Cross released a statement: “The president and CEO of the American Red Cross is Gail McGovern, and her base salary has remained $500,000—without any pay increase—since she joined the American Red Cross in 2008. This is considered well within the range for executives of large non-profits like the Red Cross, a $3.3 billion organization.” I am reminded of my son at 10 or 11 arguing that all of his friends had Nintendo 16s. The cashier at the Dollar Tree could have asked, “would you like to donate a dollar to the Red Cross to cover 1/1,637,693th of the compensation for three Red Cross Employees?”