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:
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.
In 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