Thursday, January 26, 2012

Maximizing Form 990 and Form 990-PF

Navigating a Form 990 or Form 990-PF can be daunting when you are not familiar with their contents.  Many are quite lengthy, and to the untrained eye page after page looks the same.  However, if you know where to look, these forms contain lots of great information and, sometimes, surprising details.  Did you know there is a question on the Form 990 specifically asking “Did the organization receive any payments for indoor tanning services during the tax year?”  The answer to this question and other more-relevant facts can be found within the pages of these annual non-profit and private foundation filings.

The Form 990 is the annual IRS tax return form for tax-exempt organizations.  The Form 990-PF is a specific filing for private foundations.  Both can be helpful in the world of prospect research.  Websites such as Guidestar and Foundation Center offer access to these documents. 

Are you researching an executive director?  Do you need to know more about a particular non-profit organization?  Here are some very useful things you can learn from a non-profit’s most recent 990:
·         The dates of the organization’s fiscal year.  This is the very first item on the form (Line A), even before Part I.
·         The official mission statement.  Sometimes organization’s websites elaborate or have several similar versions of the organization’s mission.  Here is where you can find the official mission statement:  Part I, Line 1.
·         A list of directors, officers, trustees, and key employees.  Find the list in Part VII, Section A.  This list will also include compensation information for any directors or officers, and for the top five highest paid employees (over $100,000). 
Some helpful things to look for on a private foundation’s Form 990-PF:
·         The dates of the organization’s fiscal year.  Just like the regular Form 990, this is the very first item on the form. 
·         Market value of year-end assets.  Foundations typically give away around 5% of this value each year.  Look for this number in its own box (Line I) on page one, just above Part I.
·         Total of contributions, gifts, or grants paid.  This number can be found in Part I, Line 25.  There is more detailed information about grants later, too.
·         Average Distribution Ratio.  This is the average percentage of its total assets the foundation has given away each year, over the past five years.  This ratio is usually around 5%.  If it is significantly higher, the foundation may be in spend-down mode.  You will find this number on page 3: Part V, Line 3.
·         List of officers, directors, trustees, five highest-paid employees, and their compensation.  This is Part VIII (page 6) of the form, but the list often will be attached as a statement at the end of the document. 
·         Part XV contains information about the foundation’s grant cycles and funding requirements.  Not all foundations provide this information, but it is always worth a look.
·         Grants and Contributions.  This is the one you have been waiting to see.  You will find a list of the year’s grants – those paid during the year and those authorized for future payment – in Part XV (page 11).  These are sometimes listed separately as an attached statement due to space restrictions on the form.  The information provided should include the recipient, an amount, a purpose, and sometimes the location of the recipient organization.
This is only a small sampling of the wealth of knowledge located in the Form 990 and Form 990-PF.  The next time you are trying to find the answer to a question concerning a non-profit organization or private foundation, be sure to check its most recent tax return document.  You never know what surprises you might find.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Compensation Resources

How do you find good compensation figures on your prospects?  How do you know they are accurate?  These are questions we, as prospect researchers, often face.  Sure, we can rely on the Department of Labor’s Occupational Outlook Handbook or National Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates for general searches (both good options!).  But, what if even more specific information is available....?  We took a minute to gather some of our favorite compensation sites by industry and listed them out here on our blog.  These sources have definitely helped us out over the past year, and we hope they will do the same for you!

Local and National Government: 
LegiStorm - Legislative Branch
Plum Book - Executive Branch  
Asbury Park Press - Federal Employees
Tennessee State Employees
Sunshine Review - State and Local Government

Professional Sports:
Major League Baseball
National Football League
National Basketball Association
National Hockey League

Entertainment Industry:
Billboard Top 40 Money Makers

Medical Doctors:
American Medical Association
American Medical Group Association Cejka Search Compensation Survey
Merritt Hawkins
Health Care Salary Surveys

What about you?  Leave us a comment and let us know what compensation sites you visit regularly! 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

APRA MidSouth Welcomes 2012 and Your Input for a Great New Year!

Hello and Happy New Year!

We here at APRA MidSouth are very excited to usher in a new year and great opportunities for our chapter.  In 2011, our group hosted several educational events, networking opportunities, and a regional workshop in Bowling Green, Kentucky.  This year, we would like to offer some of the same great programming – but bigger and better than ever! 

To make sure we are meeting our members’ needs and expectations, we would LOVE to have your input! 
·         Do you have a great idea for a chapter activity or speaker? 
·         Would you like to host a regional event? 
·         Do you want to become an APRA MidSouth regional ambassador or volunteer?  
If so, please feel free to email us at  We welcome your participation and the opportunity to work together!
We would also like to take this opportunity to introduce the 2012 Governing Board and welcome our new and returning members: 

President – Geoff Little, Senior Research Specialist at Vanderbilt University
Vice President – Angie Stapleton, Research Specialist at Vanderbilt University
Treasurer – Caroline Rossini, Research Analyst at Vanderbilt University
Secretary – Angie Herrington, Senior Research Specialist at Vanderbilt University
Membership Director – Mandy McFarland, Research Analyst at Vanderbilt University
Communications Director – Mitch Roberson, Research Analyst at Vanderbilt University
Director-At-Large – Theresa Clark, Prospect Research Coordinator at Western Kentucky University
Past President – Jane Spangler, Director of Prospect Research at Vanderbilt University

If you have questions for a specific board member, please feel free to email them directly.  If you are an APRA MidSouth member and would like to attend our first board meeting (either in person or via conference call) on Wednesday, January 11 from Noon to 1 p.m. CST, please RSVP to Angie Stapleton.  As always, we would love to have you!

We look forward to an invigorating and educational 2012!  Happy New Year!