Humboldt Area Foundation: Padding their pockets and padding the polls

Thanks for sticking with us so far through the HAF saga, THC fans. As promised, we’ve got another little tidbit that will again show that HAF has lost its way in a very serious manner. Once upon a time, you could have been sure that any of the dollars you donated to HAF would have almost exclusively been used for the benefit of the entire Humboldt community. THC has delved into HAF’s departure from their mission to impartially serve the county; in case you missed those posts, check them out here and here.

Nowadays, unfortunately, it seems like the price HAF charges for using your dollars to  perform some good for Humboldt (the type of work that we all have associated with HAF in the past) have gone way, way up. And the amount of money that HAF is diverting to pay for their administrative expenses and community organizing activities isn’t just at a historic high for the HAF alone – it’s frickin’ off the charts when compared to charitable organizations across the board.

We dug around into the financials of the HAF over the past several years, and came up with some stuff that’s pretty shocking.

First, let’s look at the operating expense of HAF. HAF’s operating expenses in 2011-2012 (according to their IRS 990 form) were 34%. According to the friendly people at the Foundation Center, and their Foundation Expenses and Compensation Report, the median operating expenses for community organizations comes in at a whopping 7%. Basically, HAF needs almost 500% more money to run it’s operation than most other charitable organizations. That extra 500% goes to paying both employee salaries (more on that in a second) and to funding the Community Strategies programs we’ve discussed in previous editions of THC.

As for grant-making (you know, the thing that HAF was originally formed to do), we are sorry to say that HAF sure as hell doesn’t look so great in comparison to the industry standard.

In 2014, HAF made grants totaling $2,479,386. Fantastic, right? Well, yes. Any amount of grant money in our community is needed. But why in the hell does HAF need so many people to manage those grants? At our last count, HAF had something around 40 people on their payroll. Want to know how many employees organizations that dole out similar levels of grant money have on average?

According to the Foundation Center, it’s about 3. Which, according to HAF’s website, is just a tad less than the number of people employed at HAF expressly for grant-making. Here’s a chart from Foundation Center’s 2010 Grant Makers Salary and Benefit Report:

hafstafftograntsPlease notice that organizations that make grants in excess of $25 million or more generally have only 30 employees.

But the even more curious part of HAF’s staffing is this: there’s 4 employees working on grants. There’s 6 people working for “Community Strategies” (a.k.a. the politically involved component of HAF), and there’s at least 8 administrative staff. So, ask yourself: what’s HAF’s biggest priority, given the number of people they employ for grant making versus other activities?

Want to know something else interesting? In 2011, for every $1 granted by HAF, there was 89 cents of administrative costs. in 2012, it was $1.32 that HAF spent on their operations for every dollar spent on the community. For comparison, the California Community Fund (which has over a billion dollars in assets compared to HAF’s 2014 total of $106,703,502) had administrative costs 6 cents for every dollar granted. Yikes.

Now, let’s look directly at Mr. Pat Cleary himself. Seeing as he has no problem treating the HAF coffers as his political ATM, it’s probably no surprise to you that he has done quite well in using those same funds for his own personal gain as well. In 2012, Cleary’s starting compensation package was worth over $138,000 a year. (THC would like to take a second to say – “Damn, that’s a lot of hooch!”) Again, according to the Foundation Center, the median salary of Community Foundation CEO’s with two or more employees is around $102,000 per year.

Remember how people in Humboldt County are underpaid compared to individuals with comparable positions outside of the area? Good ol’ Cleary said screw that – give me your money, Humboldt.

clearyIn the end, THC fans, we just think it’s high time that HAF was held accountable by our community for both the dubious and secretive political organizing they’ve engaged in and for the apparent mis-management of the funds contributed by the generous people of Humboldt County.

Sure, since HAF’s inception, the total assets have sky-rocketed, and Humboldt’s needs have changed. The issue that THC finds so troubling is that HAF’s priorities have sharply shifted away from meeting the changing needs of our community, and in many ways now mirror the political leanings of the big-wigs running the show. Similarly, the greatly increased pool of funds that are available for community enrichment have seen a corresponding increase in their use for things that are not beneficial to all in the area. We, as a community, need to come together to demand that these things change.


The Humboldt Consequential

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13 Responses to Humboldt Area Foundation: Padding their pockets and padding the polls

  1. Marc Delany says:

    I hope those numbers are wrong… maximum admin for a NP should be 25%… and that’s poor performance.. 100%, and 132% would be criminal… perhaps literally, so can everyone please check those figures? They should be closer to 15%… are you including cost that are not atributable to admin?


  2. Mac Towner says:

    Looks pretty clear to me that this Pat Cleary and his hired political hacks are literally ripping off our school children. Spending a $1.32 on each $$1.00 of grants is just wrong and spending it on out of area shit stirrers is simply disgusting. It’s way past time to figuratively run the lot of them out of town. Weesh, what a bunch of scumbags.


  3. Azalea Mom says:

    Thank you THC for bringing this really important issue to light. I plan to talk to as many school board members as I can to let them know what is being done with funds that are being raised at their schools. It seems like there should be a law about raising funds for political purposes on school property. The way I read your post that’s exactly what is happening here.

    By the way, I said earlier that I had left a message for Jen Rice, the political person at HAF. I still have never gotten a call back explaining what they are up to.


  4. MOLA42 says:

    One of two things needs to happen here:

    One: HAF will need to sue THC for libel.

    Two: There will need to be a criminal investigation for fraud on the part of the HAF.

    Since HAF is in “hunker-down” mode Thing One won’t happen.

    Since HAF is in “hunker-down” mode Thing Two is a necessity.

    Of course, Thing Three… the HAF answers to the accusations… would be the best option but does not appear to be on the table.

    HAF needs to come clean with the public, or be forced to do so.


    Please note: I am not impeaching THC’s information; in my august opinion there would be no legal ground for an accusation of libel. I’m just making a point.

    No lawyers were hurt in the production of this comment.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Anonymous says:

      It really is pretty telling that Cleary and Co have nothing to say about any of this. One would think that if THC was off base somewhere they would say so. I will not be making any contributions to any fund managed by HAF in the future. Maybe they have so much money they simply don’t care but I don’t think I could sleep at night if I did anything to support these people. Shame on them for taking advantage of the goodwill of our community for their own agenda.


  5. Arcatan says:

    I suggest that someone issue a CPRA to the County and all our local school districts demanding all information having to do with HAF. We should know just how much Mr. Cleary and Ms. Rice have infiltrated our local government and schools. We can’t put a stop to these shenanigans without knowing where the tentacles reach.


  6. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone know if the Grand Jury is allowed to investigate Cleary and Humboldt Area Foundation? If so its pretty easy to file a complaint with them. It’s online and anonymous.


  7. Tall Trees says:

    Okay, I want to know what those same figures were for the 10 year period leading up to the hiring of Mr. Cleary before you go blaming him. Maybe Peter Pennekamp was frugal and had much lower admin costs. I know they pay too much to those jokers managing their money. In the old days they had two folks doing grants, a secretary or two, a development officer, and an executive director – couldn’t have been more than 10 employees, and not all full time. I’m a little shocked HAF should have any political connections, that is, supporting a political agenda. I don’t like that community organizing efforts are being funded by HAF, unless a grantor wants it that way. I say let’s find the appropriate agency to actually do a report on this mess.

    Liked by 2 people

  8. Citizen Taxpayer says:

    HAF has morphed into your typical non-profit racket, everybody and everything is an inside job. Pennekamp milked it out and now Cleary…sad situation the Vietors would be aghast at what has become of their endowment. Really sad in that at one time it was a true benefactor to the community now a blight and a money pit to be abused and used.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Laffter in the Cheap Seats says:

    The saddest part is that Cleary & Family also control a major media outlet with rabid Blog… so it’s unlikely that what passes for a “news media” up here will notice, and if they do – it would be against their highest journalistic ethics to report on the actions of another media honcho.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. sandserat says:

    Cleary’s KHUM Coastal Currents has destroyed our once thriving coastal wetlands
    with a continuous scream for the removal of vegetation combined with a
    total blackout of adverse impacts to wetlands and wildlife. Thanks Jennifer, Mike and Cliff.
    How much money did Cleary direct to the misnamed Friends of the Dunes
    so that they could strip and erode our coastline and destroy a coastal forest? Morally they should be required to repair
    the incredible damage left on the dunes, Little River, and Clam Beach.

    The horror is that we inappropriately used our wetland enhancement monies to remove vegetation thus draining the wetlands. Creepy is an understatement.
    Nice clubhouse, fuckheads.


  11. Anonymous Too says:

    How does one go about getting on the HAF board? It would seem that the best way of bringing the foundation back to the goals that created it would be to have more diverse representation on it’s board. I’m sure there are lots of philanthropically minded people in our community that would be willing to step up.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. aware says:

    Padding their pockets and padding the polls. These are the tiny criminal minds of Humboldt County residents that are simply following what large government has been doing for years but on a much smaller scale. It’s always been politics and fundraiser for a cause that was created to pad their pockets and pad the polls. It’s a plot that only serves the few and nothing like the grant application would have you believe in the first place. Hopeful that the Grand Jury will investigate and force them to become accountable.


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