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GuideStar Blog

Chuck McLean

Recent Posts by Chuck McLean:

Perspectives on the Johnson Amendment


Image by Wyoming_Jackrabbit (flickr)

Last week, President Trump
announced at the National Prayer Breakfast, “I will get rid of, and totally destroy, the Johnson Amendment and allow our representatives of faith to speak freely and without fear of retribution.” Introduced in 1954 by Senator (and future president) Lyndon B. Johnson, the Johnson Amendment explicitly prohibits 501(c)(3) organizations (including churches) from engaging in partisan political activity.

5 Key Findings from GuideStar's 2016 Nonprofit Compensation Report

Today, GuideStar published the 16th edition of our annual Nonprofit Compensation Report, the only large-scale analysis of its kind based entirely on Form 990 data reported to the IRS, and the most comprehensive nonprofit compensation study available (135,512 observations from 96,242 FY2014 Forms 990).

IRS Releases Electronically Filed Form 990 Data


At long last, the IRS has released large amounts of electronically filed Form 990 data in machine-readable format. Approximately 60 percent of the e-filed returns have been made available now on Amazon Web Services, and the IRS intends to provide monthly updates. Efforts to get the IRS to do this have been underway for almost as long as there has been e-filed data, culminating in a successful lawsuit brought by Public.Resource.Org against the IRS after it refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request for the electronic Form 990 records of nine organizations.

Is the IRS Form 1023-EZ Too EZ?


In a recent post, I talked about some of the numbers regarding the IRS Form 1023-EZ application for tax-exempt status, which allows some organizations with annual receipts of $50,000 or less to apply on-line using a much simpler form and process than that required by Form 1023. Today I want to talk about some of the issues that have been raised by the new form.

The Impact of Form 1023-EZ

On July 1, 2014, the IRS released Form 1023-EZ (Streamlined Application for Recognition of Exemption Under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code). The purpose of this form is to make it easier for smaller charities to apply for and receive tax-exempt status.

How Have Organizations That Depend on Government Grants Fared?  Part 2

In a previous post, I started looking at how organizations that received at least 20 percent of their revenue from government grants in 2003 were holding up in 2013.  I noted that although government grants had increased at roughly the same rate as inflation over the ten years (around 27%), about half of the organizations had increased revenue at greater than the inflation rate.  In this post, I will detail my attempts to understand why some organizations did better than others.

What Forms 990 Can and Can’t Tell Us About Wounded Warrior Project

Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), an organization whose mission is “to honor and empower Wounded Warriors” has been in the news recently, and not in a positive light.  CBS News aired a three-part series alleging that money contributed to the organization was being wasted and not doing enough to improve the lives of veterans.  Concurrently, the New York Times published a story that criticizes both spending and management practices at WWP.  As a result of these events, watchdog Charity Navigator placed WWP on its watchlist.  I wanted to look at WWP’s Forms 990 to see what I could glean from them.

How Have Organizations That Depend on Government Grants Fared?

The two major sources of funding for most public charities are contributions and program services revenue.  One important source of contributions for some public charities is government grants.  In light of the so-called Great Recession, I thought it would be interesting to look at how, if at all, revenue streams had changed for organizations that depended on government grants before the recession.

What Charities Do Americans Most Generously Support?

Nobody really knows how much Americans give to charity each year, and there are now a number of new actors in the charitable giving estimation game, but Giving USA has been around the longest, and they estimate that Americans gave more than $335 billion to charity in 2013. As one might expect, most of the charities that receive the most contributions are household names.

GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report Webinar Follow-up

I would like to thank everyone who attended our webinar about the 15th GuideStar Nonprofit Compensation Report on September 29th. In case you missed it, you can view the full recording and slide deck here. There were a few questions that we did not have time to answer during the webinar, so I will take them on here. Forgive me first for providing the standard disclaimer: The information provided below is not to be considered legal advice applicable to any particular situation and organizations needing specific advice and counsel on these matters should always consult with knowledgeable counsel.

Are you seeing an increase in the number of nonprofits who are paying directors to serve on the Board? Do you think Guidestar will start including director compensation in its report?