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Sunday, January 23, 2011


I've spent the past month that I've been off from school downtown in the Financial District. I walk past Ground Zero daily, and there are - typically - a gaggle of tourists outside the 9/11 memorial and museum. I can't say I've ever been in, but it looks like a pretty high tech preview of what will be built... eventually, I guess. Seeing as the actual site isn't even remotely open yet, though, and just this small "museum" exists, you can imagine my surprise to find that "11 staffers at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum each pulled down more than $170,000 in total compensation in 2009, according to the most recent filings. Four execs took home more than $320,000." Oh, and it gets worse, "[schoolchildren] thought their penny jars and bake-sale proceeds would go toward building a 9/11 memorial at Ground Zero -- not the six-figure salaries of nonprofit execs."

The more I learn about the fiascos and corruption at Ground Zero, the more ill-fitting the name "Freedom Tower" becomes. ("Charitable Exploitation Center" or "Government Hotbed" sound less catchy, though.)

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  1. This is unbelievable. How is one supposed to trust that the money they donate will actually go to the cause they support? Another example of bureaucratic greed and incompetence. America will not survive her loss of morality or common sense. Those sensibilities I fear, are gone forever. We can no longer trust our public institutions. We look over our shoulders with suspicion at everyone and every thing. In the end, all that remains is nihilism. No society can survive that.

  2. If I ever won the lottery, I would love to give my money to worthy charities, and I would certainly look into the administrative salaries before doing so. I think we have to be very careful to whom we give our money. St. Jude would be at the top of my list to give money to. I received an e-mail around Christmas showing the salaries of administrative people in the Red Cross and other organizations vs. The Salvation Army. Mind-boggling. I think the Salvation Army got a lot of good publicity through that e-mail. I hope their monetary donations soared.

  3. Non Profit certainly doesn't apply to executive compensation. It would be interesting to see the percentage of donations that supports corporate overhead.

  4. This New York Post story is now on Drudge, which will no doubt create something of a mini-firestorm across the country.

    The first line of defense, probably out of the New York Times, will be a more in depth explanation of the fact that these numbers reflect "total compensation," and not just salaries (ie, medical coverage), perhaps along with dollar breakdowns. The NY Post story says that it is total compensation, but includes no breakdowns.

    And, an effort will they be made to suggest that the compensation is "somewhat" in line with other nonprofit institutions. In fact, one such comment was made in the Post story.

    What the story does not reveal, by the way, is the "take" of the fundraisers for the museum and memorial . . . those who are actually raising the money for the nonprofit.

    As a matter of standard practice, many such organizations have a percentage arrangement with those who raise funds for them. I would venture to guess seeing those figures might, as they say, set your hair on edge.