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Everytown’s Finances

I’ve done a lot of Form 990 analysis on this blog over the years, but a change to the tax requirements for non-profits gives us some more insight. Previously, the IRS did not make the Schedule B public, which for most non-profits lists any donor over $5,000, but for 501(c)(3)s lists any donor that goes over 2% of funds raised. Recently the rule was changed so that non-profits could submit their Schedule B without identifying information. This provides some transparency but without allowing the Twitter mobs to target big donors.

So Everytown raised a record 67 million dollars in 2018, according to their Form 990. According to the Schedule B, 39 million of that was raised from one donor. I think we can all guess who that is. But even Mike Bloomberg has friends. They raised 4 million more dollars in million dollar donations. That takes us up to 43 million raised from rich assholes. If you count the rest, if my math is right, Everytown raised 47.2 million in donations over $5000, leaving about $20 million raised in increments lower than $5000. Now that’s way more than Brady could have dreamed of a few years ago, but 47.2 million will buy you more fundraising muscle than Brady could have afforded.

Indeed, Everytown spent 2.4 million on fundraising. A generally acceptable return is $1 back for every 24 cents spent, so Everytown should have raised about 10 million just based on their fundraising spend. That’s assuming Everytown is getting average fundraising efficiency. I’d bet because they hire good people they are beating 24 cents on the dollar. It’s not unheard of to get 12 cents on the dollar, and they might be doing that.

If the rich assholes disappeared from the books next year, Everytown’s yearly take would be about 20 million. Ten million of that would be spoken for just in management expenses and fundraising, and the rest wouldn’t cover payroll. So they would be a very different organization with very different concerns were the big donors to disappear. I’d note that Everytown’s top paid exec is only pulling $350,000 (take note, Wayne), so they aren’t blowing a lot of money on execs.

Two donors pledged to them 17.6 million in stock, and they actually took possession of 1 million worth of pledged stock. But that doesn’t count toward their money raised: it’s an asset. Those are counted as non-cash gifts which is a different line item.

The Everytown 501(c)(3) is harder to tell, because the public support test the IRS uses is largely a joke. A $50 million dollar charity with fifty $1,000,000 donors is a charity with 100% public support. In fact, because that calculation is done over a 5 year period, you could sneak in a few larger donors under the radar without budging your public support percentage very much at all. The IRS also only requires that you count the overage over 2% of gross receipts, so if a donor donated $1,000,001 dollars, the million is public support. Only the $1 counts against it.

So what does the charity look like? Pretty similar in terms of dependence on rich assholes. They took in 37 million. 12.4 million of that came from donors who donated more than $740,000. So you’d think that means 67% public support, but that’s not how it’s calculated. It’s 82.4% for that year by the way the IRS calculates it. So a half a million dollar donation to Everytown Support Fund does not need be disclosed and counts as public support. See what I mean about it being bullshit? As they raise more money, more and more rich asshole money counts as public support.

How many of you could afford to donate $5000 to NRA? NRA’s 2017 Schedule B is 30 pages long, with 173 donors donating over $5000. NRA raised 30.5 million from 16 donors over $500,000, but that’s on $311 million in revenue. NRA’s biggest donor donated 18.8 million (who was that?). The next guy down was 1.2 million. NRA’s return shows a lot more depth of support.

7 Responses to “Everytown’s Finances”

  1. Jeff the Baptist says:

    “The Everytown 501(c)(3) is harder to tell, because the public support test the IRS uses is largely a joke.”

    Yes especially when other non-profits are considered “public supported” by default. So it should be remarkably easy to launder money through shells to boost that number whenever necessary.

  2. Andy B. says:

    “So it should be remarkably easy to launder money through shells to boost that number whenever necessary.”

    Actually 501 (c)(4)s are the medium most used for money laundering. I mean money laundering in the sense of raising money nominally for “Issue A” but then routing it to support “Issue B”. Of course (c)(4)s are “educational” in purpose while (c)(3)s are “charitable.” But, (c)(4)s are permitted greater financial privacy, so front groups love’em.

    “I’ve done a lot of Form 990 analysis…”

    Perhaps you should redirect your efforts to doing for “the right” what SourceWatch does for “the left”. Track all the interfaces between the webs of front groups. I’m not sure such a resource exists; I’ve found a couple that purported to do it, but their quality stank.

    • Sebastian says:

      Yes. (c)(4)s are much better for that kind of thing. They can pretty freely give. There’s a lot of restrictions on what (c)(3) money can go to, and even transfers between two (c)(3) entities isn’t all that cut and dry. NRA is in trouble for moving money from their (c)(3) to (c)(4). There are ways a (c)(4) employee can be paid with (c)(3) money, but it has to be eligible (c)(3) activity.

    • Alpheus says:

      It’s my understanding that there are a lot of Tea Party groups that have received a lot of money without being able to show much for it. I’m not 100% sure whether these groups were 510(c)(4)s or not, but this sounds like the kind of thing that Tea Party organization organizers have been doing, and it’s something that should be (at least among Tea Party sympathizers) more of a scandal than it is.

      Then again, perhaps this *is* recognized better than we realize. Instapundit (where I learned about this in the first place) likes to say “This is how we got Trump”, and the phrase is often as applicable to the right as it is the left….

      • Andy B. says:

        All I can say for now is, you are spot-on. There are “activist schools” for how to do it. Some of the schools are run by the National Right to Work Committee, which itself is a front group that provides training for activists in all issues on the right, not just labor-related things.

        Nearly 20 years ago I incorporated a 501 (c)(4) front group here in Pennsylvania, at the behest (and enticement) of people who had no interest in our issue per se. They may not have been hostile to gun rights, but it certainly wasn’t their main issue. None were from Pennsylvania, so they needed a front man. My idealism and ambition to finally Really Do Something Important rendered me so naive that I didn’t even check on who the characters on my shadow Board of Directors were, and the upfront help offered in getting things off the ground were an Offer I Couldn’t Refuse, in the best sense of that phrase. (In those earliest internet/search engine days, it wasn’t as easy to check people out as it is now.)

        Fortunately the front never got off the ground, or I’m sure I’d have had a tiger by the tail. I don’t know why it was dropped, but I suspect after I was recruited, I failed some purity test. One year to the day after registering the entity with the PA Department of State, I resigned as front man. Not that I had caught on yet to what was going on, but because I had long before grown tired of being left holding the bag for other people’s dropped initiatives.

        But the point of the story is — it goes on. Probably in all camps. Useful idiots are born every day. I probably know ten times more than the average “activist” about it, and yet all I know for sure is, I saw the tip of an iceberg much bigger than most people believe exists.

        I still get junk mail in the name of the 501 (c)(4), probably because the PA Department of State sells the mailing list of corporations filed with it.

  3. Weredragon says:

    The Big $ NRA donor maybe a one time thing. I’m thinking of someone like Peterson Publishing, who left a massive amount and awesome gun collection in his will.

  4. Henry says:

    “I’d note that Everytown’s top paid exec is only pulling $350,000 (take note, Wayne)”

    And he bought an entire state government. What have you done for us lately, Wayne? I mean, besides telling Trump you’d let him steal our bump stocks without a protest?

    Even if I could afford to send the NRA $5,000, I wouldn’t. Negative ROI.

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