Local Nonprofit Organizations Explain IRS Reporting

News Sentinel, May 20, 2012 | Go to article overview

Local Nonprofit Organizations Explain IRS Reporting


News Sentinel staff

Among the more than 100 nonprofits in the Knoxville area, a number show no fundraising expenses, and they cite different reasons for that fact.

Fundraising expenses should be listed on the IRS 990 form filled out by nonprofit agencies, but - as a Scripps Howard News Service investigation has uncovered - many list zero fundraising expenses or simply leave that line blank.

The University of Tennessee Foundation, for example, shows $15,816,041 under contributions and grants on its 2010 990 form - making it one of the largest fundraisers in the area - but the foundation left Line 16b on its 990 for total fundraising expenses blank. According to its website, the foundation "is an independent not-for-profit created in 2001 to support the University of Tennessee's educational, research and public activities."

Bruce Downsbrough, executive vice president and chief operating officer for the UT Foundation, had an explanation, which he provided in an emailed response to a reporter's questions: "UT did not outsource development (fundraising) to the Foundation until July 1, 2011 (fiscal 2012). Before that the UT Foundation did not conduct any fundraising activities and did not incur any expenses or fees for fundraising," Downsbrough wrote. " Rather, the Foundation was essentially a bank, holding some gifts and endowed funds on behalf of the University. Hence the 990 you are looking at, for fiscal 2010, is for the Foundation when it only had one employee, Robert Harrill. Robert is an accountant.

"The expenses incurred by the Foundation in fiscal 2010 were Robert's salary and fees for accounting & legal services, none of which are fundraising fees or expenses. Now that we have employees who are engaged in fundraising, our 990 for fiscal 2012 will be much different. …

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