The Nonprofit 1 Percent

Even the do-gooders can seem blind to their own excess

But Claro did call up the Guild's main office and demanded to speak to Morse, who promptly called her back.

"I think he was surprised that I had the balls to call him," Claro says. "Like I told him, I never had a problem speaking my mind. . . . Like the Puerto Ricans say: 'I've been kicked out of better places.' It didn't hurt me at all" to confront him.

Morse, she says, wanted to know why she hadn't taken the other jobs and told her they would let her know if any other positions opened up like the one she had been doing before. Claro still thinks he considers people like her "little cockroaches who can be fired."

Dr. Alan Morse, president and CEO of the Jewish Guild for the Blind
Dr. Alan Morse, president and CEO of the Jewish Guild for the Blind

Like many people who worked under him, Claro has glowing things to say about John Heimerdinger, the Guild CEO prior to Morse. He was the kind of person who knew your name when he got in the elevator with you, several people told the Voice. He sent a personally signed birthday card to every employee every year, Claro and others say.

Morse is viewed as much more distant and cool. Like many members of the 1 percent, he does not like press looking too closely at his life. He answered the Forward with a short e-mailed statement, did not speak to the Daily News, and, through the PR department at the Guild, did not respond to multiple interview requests from the Voice nor to detailed questions sent to him via e-mail.

However, quite unlike 1-percenters employed in the for-profit sector, there is a great deal that can be learned about nonprofit 1-percenters, as their employers have to file publicly viewable tax documents showing their pay.

Over the past few years, Morse's tenure at the Guild paints a picture of a CEO's pay corresponding in no way with its revenue stream.

In 2008, Morse's total compensation from the Guild was $843,502, breaking down as $199,775 in "reportable compensation from the organization," $513,706 in "reportable compensation from related organizations," and $130,021 in "estimated amount of other compensation from the organization and related organizations." The Guild's compensation committee reported on the "Schedule O" of its tax form that it had met and decided to freeze salaries for the CEO and executive and senior vice presidents for 2008 on December 10 of the previous year.

The year 2008 was a moderate one financially for the Guild: Investment revenue was down $1.3 million (after being up $10 million the year before), but the Guild still wound up with $3.8 million more in overall revenue after expenses.

But 2009—the first full year after the Wall Street debacle—was a terrible one for the Guild. It lost almost $4.4 million in investment revenue, contributions and program-service revenue were down, and it ended the year about $5 million in the red. Without attaching a date to when this would have happened (presumably in 2008) as they had in the previous year's tax documents, the compensation committee again froze top salaries for 2009.

Seems like a logical move, given how much revenue would have been projected to be down at the end of 2008 when the economy was in free fall. And yet Morse's overall compensation went up 82 percent in 2009 to a total of $1,533,558 (breaking down in the three categories from the Guild, related organizations, and the Guild plus related organizations in lumps of $614,610, $782,231, and $136,717, respectively).

On the same year's Schedule O, the committee reported that "subsequently the committee met on 10/19/09 to set compensation for 2010. At that time, the committee granted bonuses to the CEO, three executive vice presidents and senior vice president in lieu of a 2009 salary increase."

The case is never made for any bonus made midway through such a bleak economic year (one in which the CEO, whose role in nonprofits often involves fundraising, actually lost $27,372 in fundraising after expenses were paid).

But as strange as it is that the CEO's pay in 2009 seems to be at odds with the organization's revenue stream (a fact pointed out by the Daily News in September 2011, a possibly important date) something even stranger happened in 2010. That year was better economically for the Guild than 2009. Investments were up ($2.2 million from negative $4.4 million the year prior), total revenue was up about $10 million, and the organization ended the year more than $5 million in the black, rather than $5 million in the hole.

And in this better year, Morse's salary decreased 42.6 percent, coming "down" to $880,941 (breaking down in the three categories as $245,513, $509,911, and $125,517).

That amount of money kept Morse comfortably within the 1 percent. But 2009's spike of 82 percent, followed by a drop of 42.6 percent in 2010—both seemed to clash with the revenue stream the nonprofit was receiving. It's also presumably the kind of thing Governor Andrew Cuomo's new task force looking into pay at organizations that receive state money should be investigating.

Employees of the Guild say they were told by management that Morse's pay had been misrepresented by the Daily News and that the bump was merely a payment to his retirement fund. But it did little to assuage their ire—employee pensions had been frozen a few months earlier.

A close look at the Guild's 2010 tax returns, reported here in the Voice for the first time, reveals an interesting timeline. That year, the board's compensation committee wrote that the "committee arrives at annual salaries for the CEO, three executive vice presidents and senior vice president at a meeting at which the auditors and attorneys are present."

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26 comments
Boo_Bottoms
Boo_Bottoms

Typical liberals... ripping off the Taxpayers and the these poor people. No wonder they support the Magic Negro.... it's like printing money.

F'n Joos are either stealing through the Banks or social programs like this... money is their God!

Larry Marsden
Larry Marsden

Even the nonprofit organizations are doing the wall street hustle!!!

Ymgscoringhigh
Ymgscoringhigh

Wow, do people still believe that "non-profit" is really not profitable. Come on people, Trillions of dollars are donated around the world, yet we still have hunger, people are still homeless and poor residents roofs still leak. It's a bigger scam than politicians and these people get praised for the "WORK". Of course they have great big marble mantles to put all their do gooder awards on. Why be a politician at all, just start a non-profit.

Dean Michael Mead
Dean Michael Mead

It took a while for the public to catch on to what is going on at the Guild. They killed a phenomenal early intervention program for blind children under 4, many of them multiply handicapped as well. Why did they kill it? It wasn't profitable. Hold on a second, isn't that concept inherent in the mission of a not-for-profit organization? They do the things that private business won't do because they're not profitable activities.

Stealinghope
Stealinghope

i feel that there ought to be in addition to (1) for profit and (2) not for profit organizations there ought to be a third category: (3) not for profit, my foot organizations ... as evinced herein (this article) and other places there are many people at not for profits who do quite well financially, including, but not limited to 'development' (fund raising) people who sometimes get a percentage of the take. one example of a 'renowned' organization (MSKCC) whose non pareil raison d'etre (and mostly selfless employees) is at times in variance with their tack and actions: “Sloan is pursuing a systemic approach to reducing expenses and increasing revenues […] One example of this is discouraging terminally ill patients from seeking initial treatment or second opinions from the cancer center […] the admission of such patients is counterproductive […] to Sloan Kettering.” [paraphrasing salient features, MSKCC, CFO/Chief Financial Officer] ... there are also instances of craven self servitude at MSKCC conducted by people who drop their moral compasses, yet clearly know better. another example is the aids vaccine ride of perhaps ~ 15 years ago, multiple sponsored city to city 3 day ~ 300 mile bike rides that required relatively large sums of funds to be raised for the cause by participants, but when all was said and done, perhaps ~ 14% of accruals went to charity. That's just not right.

Stealinghope
Stealinghope

There ought to be 3 categories of business: (1) for profit; (2) not for profit; (3) not for profit, my a** ... as there are many at not for profits who make a lot of money ... including beggars in three piece suits (a Paul Fussell [Class] term) a.k.a. 'development' people. Take for example the 'renowned' MSKCC ... “Sloan is pursuing a systemic approach to reducing expenses and increasing revenues […] One example of this is discouraging terminally ill patients from seeking initial treatment or second opinions from the cancer center […] the admission of such patients is counterproductive […] to Sloan Kettering.” [paraphrasing salient features, MSKCC, CFO/Chief Financial Officer] ... at that Institute whose raison d'etre is indeed non pareil and most of whose employees are selfless there are unfortunately individuals (suits, non-clinicians, etc. ) who attempt to influence enrollment in clinical trials in variance with a clinician's intuition when very large milestone [clinical trial phase completion dependent] royalty payments lay in the balance. In addition attempts to expand by that institute have been described as bullying are framed by the bizarre facilities management and infrastructure problems that are swept under the rug. These include but are not limited to chronically exposing its workers to poison (carbon monoxide) [resulting in abandonment of a building after firstly dispatching selfless employees who rightfully complain about safety issues on pretense], knowingly not installing ductwork controls in a laboratory building and other egregious oversights that stand to affect and have likely effected reaction conditions of experiments that may result in clinical trial candidates. the following citation is but one example: http://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/e... ... Ariad stock once increased by 100x (10,000%!!) in perhaps a 4 month time frame. Are YOU an Ariad millionaire? Were you in on that? MSKCC's incumbent President is currently involved in his own he said/she said (IP) Intellectual Property imbroglio. The disingenuousness that emanates from that Institute is intermittently palpable, and those who commit conflict of interest, ethics, environmental health and safety lapses clearly know better.

Bk
Bk

I spent five years working for one of the most well-known non-profits, and the experience led me to the understanding that one should give a charitable contribution ONLY to a direct service provider. Those large, national paper tiger non-profits all have overpaid mouthpieces, be they execs, boards or consultants. As with most things political, grass roots is where it's greener, donation-wise.

Hmmmm
Hmmmm

Occupy is funded, run, and promoted by non profit crooks.

tampajohn1
tampajohn1

Occupy is right on ---time to do a lot of readjustment $$$$$ - and get rid of these crony ". Not for profit" crooks. United Way - same con game --March of Dimes same con game. It is a national con game and the insiders know it. Wake up America!

NirzwanB
NirzwanB

the courts should take the money and belongings of that evil person and do something good with it to make up for this.

Raydog1973
Raydog1973

The thing is most of these non profit presidents probably come from money in the first place. In my expericnes nonprofit leadership is filled with the blacksheep of rich families who dont want to be surrounded by all that wealth than end up making the same amount of money in a nonprofit enviorment

Gues
Gues

Why didn't this article mention the organization's Board of Directors, and their responsibility to run the organization in a fiscally responsible manner? They are the ones that approve the budget, including the President's compensation.

Datebi
Datebi

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car movers
car movers

not everything is money, there are something called values and you have to stand for that. Morse is type who don't care about it and its his failure no matter how much he earns

Datebi
Datebi

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Paula
Paula

I heard the Alzheimer's Association is also like this.

Alexandra
Alexandra

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crookedE
crookedE

Morse should take a lesson from his own (former) employees - sometimes you do work for reasons other than money.

zagfooo
zagfooo

See now that is exactly what I am talking about dude. WOw.Total-Privacy dot US

alvise giglio
alvise giglio

OMG! Alan Morse is the scum below the pond scum in the septic tank in my yard. What a heartless bastard!!

msbpodcast
msbpodcast

Alan Morse is a rich prick without a conscience.

When the zombie apocalipse comes, I hope he is not one of the first to go.

I want him to suffer.

Maybe they'll just eat his eyes and keep the rest of him as a larder.

Hamilton55
Hamilton55

You are absolutely correct....I cringe when I hear someone say, here's a problem/ need let's start a program or NFP.

 
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