SAVE THE FROGS! strives to use donations as effectively as possible. This report summarizes our 2016 financial expenditures and revenues, with commentary on the most important data. You can download our 2016 IRS Form 990 as well as view past years’ financial data here.
Osteocephalus planiceps from Colombia courtesy Juan Camilo Diaz
2016 TOTAL REVENUES: $215,878
- Donations (i.e. contributions and grants): $103,216
- Program Services (i.e. services for which we are paid, such as ecotours and workshops): $105,702
- The remaining revenues were primarily from Gift Center sales
2016 was the first year in STF!’s history that program services were our number one revenue source (outpacing contributions and grants). Ecotours were the main driver of this, even though staff time spent on ecotour activities was significantly less than time spent on our traditional conservation conservation programs. Donations revenue was just over $100,000, which is far below what is needed to operate a sustainable and highly effective nonprofit organization with a worldwide mission. It is not enough to hire, train and retain the best staff and it is not enough to fund the programs we are otherwise capable of implementing. While it is fabulous to have significant income from program services like ecotours, that is not a sustainable solution: public charities are generally required by law to raise over one-third of revenues from donations. If we become dependent on ecotour revenues and/or our ecotour program grows faster than our donations received, we will eventually have difficulty satisfying this federal requirement.
Due to financial limitations, salaries at SAVE THE FROGS! unfortunately rank far below what similarly qualified people at other organizations earn, and this threatens our ability to hire and retain the quality of staff that we need. My 2016 salary for full-time work was $28,164. It is a fact of life that underpaid employees have short job expectancies, and in my personal case, I have already begun transitioning to alternative career opportunities, significantly reducing the time I am able to dedicate to SAVE THE FROGS!. Unfortunately, society tends to deem salaries to nonprofit employees as something to be avoided (many foundations explicitly refuse to fund salaries, and many members of the public speak of wanting to ensure that their donations don’t go into the pockets of staff). Yet the past century has shown quite clearly that financial incentives drive innovation and accomplishment. By undervaluing the importance of paying nonprofit staff what they are worth, the financial incentives are removed while both the desire and the necessity to change careers is increased, to the detriment of the cause. Inability to pay talented conservationists sufficient salaries (or at all) is indeed what I consider the single greatest problem in environmental conservation, as I continuously watch as people who should be saving frogs or other wildlife are forced to pursue non-conservation careers that pay them the salaries they require.
SAVE THE FROGS! donations must increase dramatically if we are to survive and accomplish our mission and our potential. Currently we are accomplishing a mere fraction of our potential due to a lack of funding.
Rough skinned newts (Taricha granulosa) in amplexus courtesy Diane Higgins.
2016 TOTAL EXPENSES: $214,570
- Program Expenses: 90.3%
- Administrative Expenses: 6.7%
- Fundraising Expenses: 3.0%
As is the case every year, SAVE THE FROGS! uses a significantly higher proportion of our revenues on programs than does the average charity (see Dollar For Dollar, SAVE THE FROGS! Blows The Big Guys Away for more details). That means that we spend relatively little on administration and fundraising. We are lean and effective on administration, and we do not hire outside fundraisers (though we would if we could afford to, as the result would be higher revenues and more frogs saved).
We are always looking for ways to reduce STF! expenses, though we are happy to invest in people, programs and technologies that will increase our conservation output.
In December 2014 we closed the SAVE THE FROGS! Education Center (Berkeley, CA) and have not rented physical office space since, saving the organization well over $50,000.
What do you think?
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and let me know. And remember: SAVE THE FROGS! relies on the financial support of educated frog enthusiasts like YOU to make our successes possible. Your donation is greatly appreciated.