How Much Should A Domestic Violence Non-Profit Executive Make?

Earlier this month, Florida Governor Rick Scott criticized the President of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence for her astronomical salary of $316,104 with an additional $36,158 in benefits. (1) The Coalition reported that her compensation is partly paid for with private donations and grants, and that her salary is set by the Coalition’s Board based on a study of comparable non-profits. If this is the case, I wonder where these ‘comparable non-profits’ are, because the most recent tax forms for the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence indicated that their Director made $78,176. The former Executive Director of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence made $82,360, and the highest paid individual at the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence made $67,593. (2)To review a charity’s IRS “Form 990″ report for salary information visit www.guidestar.org
So how much should a domestic violence non-profit executive make? Other types of non-profit organizations have been investigated because of their inflated salary structures. In 2010, New Jersey began limiting the amount a non-profit group can pay their executives if they are providing social services under state contracts. New Hampshire launched an investigation into the compensation of non-profit hospital executives, and in that same year, four senators refused to approve a $425 million dollar package of federal grants for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America after they learned that the chief executive made nearly $1 million dollars in 2008. But to this date, there has been no investigation into the salaries and compensation of domestic violence organizations. The domestic violence reform movement has been very vocal regarding this issue. Many victims are turned away from the ‘go-to’ organizations due to their reported lack of funding, while their board members continue to collect inflated salaries.
For example, over a three year time span, the President of the National Network to End Domestic Violence personally profited close to $1 million dollars, but closed Amy’s Courage Fund for victims citing a struggling economy and lack of funds. In 2009, Amy’s Courage Fund helped 139 victims with a total of $264,856. That same year, the NNEDV President made over $270,000 (plus benefits) – her salary totaling more than the entire amount in Amy’s Courage Fund for victims. (3) The NNEDV indicated that they were 93.9% supported by the public in 2010, but even according to the Better Business Bureau, they do not meet the BBB’s wise giving standards. (4) The Better Business Bureau’s standards for charity accountability are designed to foster public confidence in charitable organizations, and enable donors to make wise giving decisions. The NNEDV fails to meet 4 of these standards, which include failure to disclose total expenses in their budget.
There are other domestic violence and crime victim organizations that spend a large portion of their budget on salaries and benefits. The National Center for Victims of Crime indicated on their 2010 taxes that they are 99.2% supported by the public (62% of this is federally funded) They received $2,803,936 in grants and spent $2,041,252 on salaries, compensation and benefits. (5) They are the parent organization for the National Stalking Resource Center, and found it necessary to close the Crime Victim Helpline due to lack of funding, which should be a lifeline for victims. (6) When a stalking victim reaches the point where they need to call a hotline, they need more than reading material and tip sheets – especially those that are up against a psychologically aggressive perpetrator, so it is unfortunate that this important resource has been shut down.
So how much is too much? Alexis Moore, the Founder and Director of Survivors In Action and a leader in the Domestic Violence Reform Movement is passionately advocating for change and the formation of an oversight committee. “Domestic Violence organizations must be held accountable,” says Moore, “These are taxpayer dollars we are talking about, and victims continue to be left behind and caught in a cycle of referrals while executives continue to profit.” Ironically, there are many domestic violence organizations that run primarily by volunteers, people that dedicate their time advocating for victims, and whose organizations cannot get enough funding to pay their dedicated staff. There are also well-educated lawyers providing direct services for victims for next-to-nothing or no pay, and public servants risking their personal safety enforcing child custody agreements and restraining orders. Something is drastically wrong with the system when non-profits that are receiving the lion’s share of government funding (and other major corporate contributions) are closing hotlines and other victim services due to lack of funds, but they can continue to pay astronomical salaries and benefits to their staff. Saying that these large salaries are ‘comparable to other non-profits’ does not excuse them morally or ethically, as this extensive misappropriation of funds has a devastating effect on victims. When one person at an organization can profit nearly one million dollars in three short years, but a victim that turns to Amy’s Courage Fund (which was set up to provide emergency financial assistance when a victim is fleeing an abusive situation) is turned away because they can no longer afford to offer the program – it is time for change.
ARTICLE DISCLAIMER: Statements and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author. 

1. Bousquet, Steve. “Gov. Rick Scott Takes Aim at Domestic Violence Group Salary.” – Tampa Bay Times, 03 May 2012. Web.http://www.tampabay.com/news/politics/gubernatorial/gov-rick-scott-takes-aim-at-domestic-violence-group-salary/1228096
2. “GuideStar Nonprofit Reports and Form 990 for Donors, Grantmakers and Businesses” Web. 24 May 2012 http://www.guidestar.org/
3. “National Network to End Domestic Violence Fund.” Nonprofit Report Form 990 for 2008, 2009 and 2010 Web. http://www.guidestar.org/organizations/52-1973408/national-network-end-domestic-violence-fund.aspx
4. “Better Business Bureau” Charity Review of National Network to End Domestic Violence. March 2011. Web. http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/human-services/national-network-to-end-domestic-violence-in-washington-dc-2828
5. “National Center for Victims of Crime” IRS Form 990 Financial Statement. 2011 Web.http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/AGP.Net/Components/documentViewer/Download.aspxnz?DocumentID=49443
6. “The National Center for Victims of Crime” Annual Report, Page 2. Web. http://www.ncvc.org/ncvc/AGP.Net/Components/documentViewer/Download.aspxnz?DocumentID=49444