I got to reading about Al Gore today, and started wondering about his Climate Reality Project (CRP). So I looked up the background of the company on Guidestar.
The official name of the CRP is the Alliance for Climate Protection. The purpose of the Alliance is as follows:
The Alliance’s single purpose is to ignite public action to solve the climate crisis.
Now, of course this raises questions, like what is the evidence for the climate “crisis” of which they speak, and how does one “protect” a climate, but let’s leave those questions to sleep in peace. I wanted to look at the public accounts of the CRP, the most recent set of which (2010) I’ve posted up here (PDF, 1.7 Mb). I’ve usually found it fruitful to “Follow the Benjamins”, as the saying has it, which means to follow what is happening with the money.
Figure 1. An old-school Benjamin, in this case showing a certain John J. Knox, from 1902. The current US $100 bill features a picture of Benjamin Franklin. Photo Source: WSJ Article
So what do the accounts of the Alliance for Climate Protection, also called the Climate Reality Project, tell us? No great revelations, but a few interesting things.
First, the accounts show that protecting the climate pays quite well. The CEO of the Alliance makes over a quarter million dollars a year. There are six other officers of the company making over $160,000 per year.
Al Gore is the Chairman of the Board of the CRP. He serves without a salary, although I assume that they pay his expenses if he is fronting for the company. Some of the company documents call him “Chairman Gore”, which I found hilarious … but I digress.
Now, people talk a lot about the mythical “Big Oil” money that is supposed to inspire and impel and motivate us climate skeptics. Me, I’ve never seen any Big Oil bucks. I’ve done all of this on my own dime, just like Steve McIntyre and many of the major players on the skeptical side. Anthony got some money for one specific scientific research project, but other than that it’s been funded out of his own pocket. Money is simply not a factor on the skeptic side.
But I will assure you that if I were getting a quarter of a million dollar salary, and my job was based entirely on the idea that we are headed for thermal meltdown, I would defend that idea with everything I had. People say that the skeptics are motivated by the money? Pffft. At most that’s a few bucks here or there. But if you are making a quarter of a million per year based on the idea that CO2 is dangerous, you are very strongly motivated by the money to spread that meme to as many people as possible. If people stop believing that CO2 is the magical control knob for the climate, you’re out of a job. At that point, you are committed, you have to shout about the impending long-rumored but somehow not yet visible Thermageddon.
Second, there is a site called the Charity Navigator that ranks non-profit organizations from 0 to four stars, based on a variety of metrics. Charity Navigator gives the Climate Reality Project two stars.
The Charity Navigator folks also compare the CRP to what they consider to be similar projects (Alaska Wilderness League and three others). The CRP comes in … well … not to put too fine a point on it, of the five, they come in dead last in the overall rating.
The most interesting finding, however, was how much of the money goes to overheads, and how much actually goes to their work. I used to run a non-profit, and I have kept the books and dealt with all the grant madness and all of the accounting requirements. The usual division for a well-run non-profit is on the order of 15% or less going to overheads, and 85% going to the work of the non-profit.
According to the Charity Navigator, only 74% of the money raised by the Climate Reality Project goes to projects, with the rest going to overheads. No bueno. The CRP is the worst of the five comparable non-profits by that metric as well. All of the comparison non-profits spent more on projects and less on administration than did the CRP.
Now, that’s bad enough. But if you take a look at the accounts I linked to earlier, they break down their expenses as follows:
ACCOUNT, 2010 Expense Grants USA, $3,725,209 Grants Overseas, $155,310 Salaries Officers, $1,387,906 Salaries Staff, $7,251,182 Benefits, $992,182 Payroll Taxes, $466,680 Legal, $41,738 Accounting, $30,257 Lobbying, $13,408 Fundraising, $255,022 Other Expenses, $2,960,738 Advertising, $1,135,090 Office Expenses, $229,111 Info Technology, $547,260 Occupancy, $1,434,612 Travel, $553,737 Conferences, $291,713 Interest, $3,531 Depreciation, $428,292 Insurance, $27,506 Bad Debt, $2,000,032 Events, $1,030,059 Email List Purchase, $378,699 Pubs/Subscriptions, $189,949 Other Exp, $151,178 Misc. Exp, $7,385 TOTAL, $25,687,786 Used for Projects, $14,142,300, 55% Used for Administration, $11,545,486, 45%
I’ve marked the line items that I would say were project related in red, and left the administrative expenses in black. Perhaps there are some other project related expenses, although if so I can’t see them. According to the Climate Navigator, they spent just over nineteen million dollars on projects, and I’m short about five million. But even by the numbers from the Climate Navigator, the Climate Reality Project is spending too much money on their overheads and not enough on projects.
What does all of this establish? Not a lot, other than that:
• The officers are making quite nice money off of climate alarm, thank you very much, and
• Al Gore is not very good at running a non-profit, and
• The people giving their hard-earned money to Al et al. are getting a bad deal, they’re getting very little bang for the Benjamin.
Best to all,