How Much Does Your Community Organizer Make?

During the course of my exploration of non-profit housing counseling groups, the efforts of which you can read about in the September edition of HousingWire, I learned a lot about the strategies of groups like the Association of Community Organizers for Reform Now (ACORN), its affiliate group ACORN Housing, the National Urban League (NUL), the Neighborhood Assistance Corporation of America (NACA) and the National Council of La Raza (NCLR). I also learned about where these organizations hope to place their efforts as the country continues to navigate the recession. Many readers have written in with strong opinions about these groups. A lawyer from Idaho called ACORN a “criminal enterprise” in response to a online story about the group’s protesting efforts. It got me wondering what these alleged “criminals” are making. My review of tax records, specifically Internal Revenue Service’s (IRS) Form 990, revealed some interesting statistics about executive compensation. So, do you think you can match the following salaries to the executives of the above mentioned non-profits who make them? And what do you feel represents an adequate compensation package for their work? Go ahead, take a guess: A) $66,515 B) $75,000 C) $274,862 D) $652,885 If you guessed A, you picked the salary of ACORN Housing executive director Mike Shea, according to the group’s 2007 Form 990 filing. But Shea wasn’t the highest paid employee that year. Bruce Dorpalen, the group’s national director of housing counseling and a founding father of the group, has that distinction. According to the same 2007 form, Dorpalen made $76,063. If you guessed B, you picked NACA head Bruce Marks’ salary. Marks also had a $6,152 expense account, according to the group’s 2007 Form 990. NACA declined to return my calls for the magazine story. But if you’re reading this, feel free to give me a call, Bruce, I still want to talk. If you think the head of a community group is pulling in six figures, NCLR president and CEO Janet Murguia agrees with you. She leads the list of 10 NCLR employees who made more than $100,000, according to NCLR’s 2006 Form 990 filing. In all, NCLR spent more than $1.5m on salaries for its president and a myriad of vice presidents in 2006. Taking the cake is NUL president and CEO Marc Morial, who made $652,885 according to the group’s 2007 Form 990 report. The former New Orleans mayor is the only compensated member on NUL’s roster of 52 officers, directors, trustees and key employees, but five other employees of the organization made between $174,000 and $243,000, according to the form, for more than $1.6m in salaries combined for the six highest paid employees. Write to Austin Kilgore.

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