Pat Halloran may have the best job in Memphis.
The guiding force of The Orpheum theater is a talented speaker, raconteur, and author. He hobnobs with famous actors. He gets to see the most popular shows on Broadway. As president of the not-for-profit Memphis Development Foundation (the business name for The Orpheum), he is the gold standard for big-stage theater managers. He is also the bronze standard, silver standard, and platinum standard since there is only one Orpheum and Halloran has been its public face for more than 25 years.
His board likes him, too. So much that he earned $420,105 in salary and benefits last year. His $375,000 salary -- which is more than the combined salaries of the mayors of Memphis and Shelby County -- puts him in the top ranks of executives of Memphis nonprofit organizations.
Memphis nonprofits are increasingly influential but rarely scrutinized, despite the efforts of Congress and the Internal Revenue Service to publicize their Form 990 tax returns. Curiously, most local reporters ignore them. For example, a recent story in The Commercial Appeal about The Orpheum possibly changing its name to generate sponsorship income made no mention of anyone's salary.
Nonprofits are tax-exempt because they perform some public purpose, thereby relieving the public sector of some of its burden. They include organizations as diverse as Rhodes College, Memphis Country Club, the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center, the Mid-South Chapter of the American Red Cross, and the Memphis Humane Society. As governments reach the political limits of their taxing power, they increasingly turn to nonprofits for help. The Salvation Army, for example, is a possible key player in the redevelopment of the Mid-South Fairgrounds.
Some nonprofits, including the Memphis Development Foundation, hold fund-raising events, recruit volunteers, and seek donations. Others, such as the Plough Foundation, manage old money and give it away. Grassroots organizations such as Friends for Our Riverfront and Parents for Public Schools operate on shoestring budgets of less than $50,000 a year. United Way of Greater Memphis and Senior Citizen Services, on the other hand, have budgets of more than $25 million.
Quasi-public nonprofits like the Riverfront Development Corporation (RDC) and the Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau work closely with the city and county on downtown development. Three former city division directors work for the RDC, which has taken over some of the duties that used to belong to the Memphis Park Commission.
The IRS requires nonprofits to make their tax returns, including executive compensation and program spending, available to the public. Many organizations post their Form 990s on their Web sites. Another place to look is www.guidestar.org. Some nonprofits describe what they do in great detail. See the Mid-South Peace and Justice Center's return. Others require you to do a little digging. For example, you wouldn't know it by looking at its tax form, but Senior Citizen Services, which got $26 million in government grants last year, is managed by another nonprofit: Generations Inc.
Here is a sampling of Memphis nonprofit organizations, what they do, and what they pay in salary and benefits to their key people.
MIFA; provides meals and services to the needy; Margaret Craddock, $112,000.
Memphis Tomorrow; corporate execs tackle big issues; Blair Taylor, $150,731.
Partners in Public Education; leadership training; Ethele Hilliard, $178,080.
Senior Citizen Services/Generations Inc.; home-based care and other services for seniors in four states; Deborah Cotney, $216,011.
United Way of Greater Memphis; Harry Shaw, $250,101.
Memphis Union Mission; houses the homeless; Donald Bjork, $83,743.
Plough Foundation; manages $163 million endowment and supports various causes and organizations; Rick Masson, $200,767.
Memphis Convention & Visitors Bureau; Kevin Kane, $243,691.
Riverfront Development Corporation; Benny Lendermon, $201,830.
Bridges USA Inc.; supports youth programs; James Boyd, $125,650.
Mid-South Peace and Justice Center; performs peace vigils, supports a living wage, opposes prison privatization; Jacob Flowers, $15,000.