Cancer is really awful. I hate it. The reason I came to Washington, DC in the first place was in part to fight cancer. So please, to those of you suffering from cancer or have family members that are fighting for their lives, I don’t want to take away from our need to find preventative measures and cures for the many cancers that kill so many people.
Part of what I talk about in my book is the need to look beyond the slick presentation and deep into the data that’s driving our society. So when “Movember” came across my social streams, I went to take a look. The Movember website is gorgeous, and I hope that whoever made it donated it — because it’s definitely the kind of design work that isn’t cheap. And it comes with its own iphone app? That’s neat.
But let’s look beyond the marketing. Where’s my money actually going?
In the United States every non-profit has to file an IRS Form 990 that reports how that charity spends its money and how it compensates its executives. While some non-profits make their 990s available online, GuideStar makes 990s available for most other large foundations and non-profits. So let’s take a look at the 990s.
In the case of Movember — it’s an independent organization called Movember Inc. They have their 990s online here. In 2010, Movember was able to raise nearly 7.5 Million dollars, costing them about 2 million dollars (about a half million for its employees, and 1.5 million for program expenses) to get. It’s CEO — a man named Adam Garone, compensates himself $78,958 for what seems to be basically a half-time job there, working 14 hours a week. Looking at the total compensation he gets in the organization’s supplemental materials, it looks like he receives $223,767 for full time compensation on the project. Which is a little high for this kind of organization’s size, but not entirely out of line.
In 2010, Movember gave the bulk of its money to two other non-profits: the Prostate Cancer Foundation, and the Lance Armstrong LiveStrong foundation. And here’s where I made my decision not to grow my moustache.
In 2009, the Prostate Cancer Foundation, according to its 990s brought in about 30 Million dollars, and paid its CEO Jonathan Simons, $850,188. By comparison, the highest compensated executive at the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation (an organization that brings in about 5 times the money) is paid $468,255 according to its 990. The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s (who I’ve run a marathon for) CEO makes 568,610 dollars a year and LLS brings in nearly 10x the amount of annual revenue than the Prostate Cancer Foundation.
The Lance Armstrong Foundations seems to have executive compensation of a more reasonable level. Their highest compensated employee makes $308,629.
Now whether or not that $850,188 compensation package causes you to not grow a mustache — that’s up to you. Executive compensation obviously isn’t the whole picture of the efficiency of a charity. But for me, its enough of a red flag that his compensation is so far out of line with his peers. I’d suggest that if you’re interested in the causes behind Movember, look deeply into the charities trying to prevent and cure prostate cancer, see how they’re spending their money, and give to the ones that give you the most bang for your buck.
Again I’ll stress: executive compensation isn’t the whole picture. But this is an example of how you can quickly use some data to evaluate what charities are worth your time according to your values. For me, it means no mustache. But I’ll give to the Lance Armstrong Foundation.