Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Civil War Preservation Trust

Like many of you (hopefully many of you) I am a member of the Civil War Preservation Trust. This is a great organization that helps preserve our hallowed ground. They are the only national organization doing this although there are several organizations who operate at a local level. Recently I got a mailing for the Slaughter Pen at Fredericksburg, and their continuing efforts to raise the many millions to save this land for good. I'm not sure why I was drawn to the fine print this time but when I read it I saw that their financial statement was on file with my state's Secretary of State office. I went online and turned the report into a pdf which can be viewed here.

When we give to any charity I think part of us always wonders who much of it goes towards doing the activity we think we're supporting (preserving hallowed ground or cancer research) and how much is spent on daily operations that while important are not what we think of when we send in our money. This CWPT report shows that they seem to do a pretty good job in that respect. According to the report CWPT's revenue was $19,651,615. That number is way more than I expected. They spent $19,415,174 of it. Of that $279,701 went to administration and $785,597 to fundraising. The remaining $18,349,876 was spent on "program services." There is no way from this small report to be certain but it appears that only 5.5% was spent on daily operations (this assumes of course that "program services" means money spent protecting hallowed ground and not for anything else). I'm not sure what the industry standard is but 5.5% seems like a small amount to me.

Later in the report it says that $80,284 was paid to a professional fundraiser. I would be interested to know how much that fundraiser brought it. This is also something I don't really know if the total is way too much or not. If the professional brought in more than his percentage of the costs it would be good. What I mean is that his cost was roughly 10% of the fundraising costs. If that other fundraising brought in $2 million then the professional should have brought in at least $200,000 to be worthwhile.

The final oddity I noticed is where the report listed assets and liabilities. The CWPT has liabilities of $14,060,756 which I assume is loans on various tracts that are not paid off yet, plus maybe some employee costs (health care or 401k or something along those lines). The assets though were $48,622,072 which I found mind boggling. I guess that is land they own that has not been turned over to the NPS (and some may never be if there is no nearby park for it to be a unit of). I truly was amazed that they have this many assets, whatever it may be.

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