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I am confused by the statement of the representative of the National Wildlife Federation regarding foundation and corporate funding. Is a href="http://www.thenation.com/bletters/20100322/hari#dorsey">Ms. Dorsey saying that the total income from corporate contributions amounts to .5 percent? Does this include corporate foundations and large anonymous donations from individuals from corporations too?

Once can easily check on the financial status of any nonprofit organization by simply examining the organization’s Annual Information Return. All nonprofit organizations that make over $25,000 annually are required to submit an Annual Information Return (IRS 990) annually. They are generally all available online for free. Additionally, many of the annual reports are also available via guidestar.org.

So in the case of the National Wildlife Federation, a quick check of their IRS 990 Form for 2008 and their annual report for the same year shows the following income distribution:

NWF 2008 Income from IRS 990 Form & Annual Report
Direct Public Support (Includes large anonymous donors) [$]45,754,563.00 48.38 [percent]
Foundation and Corporate Contributions 16,436,000.00 17.38
Indirect Public Support 5,650,537.00 5.97
Government Grants 195,775.00 0.21
Program Services 10,758,889.00 11.38
Membership and Dues Assessments 10,692,635.00 11.31
Interest on Savings 55,542.00 0.06
Dividends and interest on securities 157,054.00 0.17
Net Rental Income 14,988.00 0.02
Other investment income -103,419.00 -0.11
Special Events -177,221.00 -0.19
Sales of merchandise 287,317.00 0.30
Other Revenue 4,851,168.00 5.13
Total Revenue 94,573,828.00 100.00

Interestingly, there is a discrepancy of over $6 million dollars in income between the IRS 990 Form (which reports a net income of $94 million), and the Annual Report (which shows $88 million). This is not unusual, and is usually due to different accounting methods. Even using the higher amount, the data supplied by the National Wildlife Federation shows that foundations and corporations account for over 17 percent of their income. So where does the .5 percent figure come from?

In my opinion, the NWF is among the more responsive environmental organizations. They have a representative form of organizational governance, and some accountability to their members. Many other organizations, such as EDF or NRDC do not. What is important is that these nonprofit organizations need to be held accountable for their actions. It is quite easy to examine the finances of these organizations. Additionally, information on who makes up the board of directors is also available via the IRS 990 form. Research has shown that the makeup of the board of directors has a great deal of impact on the nature of the actions of different environmental groups. I urge interested readers to examine these organizations and find out for themselves about the actual extent of connections to foundations and corporations.