990 survey generates new numbers for LSA
In the most comprehensive survey of system income and expense in its 12 year history, Lutheran Services in America has compiled remarkable numbers, including $16.6 billion in total income, that can be used to describe the abundant breadth and economic impact of Lutheran social ministry in the United States.
The data was compiled from the latest publicly available Form 990s for LSA's 304 member organizations and their subsidiary corporations for which they file Form 990. Of the total membership, 266 organizations have 990s posted on Guidestar, the website that gathers and disburses information about nonprofits. The new aggregated number represents data from 825 entities filed in 2007 or 2008.
The compiled data shows that from the latest 990s, LSA member organizations reported income of $16.6 million, including nearly $472 million in private support and $268 million in government support (not including Medicare and Medicaid). The organizations reported expenses of $15.5 billion.
This is the first time in many years that LSA has undertaken a comprehensive collection of data, so it likely reflects that effort rather than growth in overall numbers. LSA is now positioned to track trends by individual organizations over time.
While the 990 survey showed that 71 percent of organizations reported excess income over expense, we know that many LSA member organizations are struggling to operate in the black in these challenging economic times. Besides reflecting past performance, overall revenues exceed expenses primarily because foundations are among the 825 entities for which data are reported, reflecting endowment and other restricted donations. Government support does not include the government –funded Medicare and Medicaid or other government contracts, which represent a large portion of the total income for most organizations.
Aggregations are valuable, but do obscure the diversity and color of the individual. For instance, LSA member organizations range in total income from $16,300 to $2.6 billion and from very small neighborhood programs to multi-state health care systems. It is notable that philanthropic support for these organizations generally comes from a large cadre of people donating very small amounts and is critical to the ongoing operations of these members.
LSA was asked to submit information to the Chronicle of Philanthropy as it prepares its late October issue on the top 400 nonprofits ranked by private giving. LSA has also submitted the information at the request of The NonProfit Times and Forbes magazine.
As the data gathering for these publications was completed, LSA was curious about a comparison between these current 990s and the organization’s previous 990. Using the data from the larger study, LSA selected a little over ten percent of the sample and reviewed the organizations’ previous 990. In an effort to attempt to examine a mix of organizations, the sample selected included the top seven organizations in each quartile. In the 100th quartile, the initial sample had a higher representation of hospital systems. Therefore an additional seven organizations were selected in the 100th quartile; these were multi-site; state-wide or multi-site; multi-state organizations.
According to this comparative study, the data suggests that private support has decreased by 13.5 percent; government support has decreased by more than 15 percent. Although total income has increased, so too have fundraising expenses - over 18 percent and program expenses at seven percent. The exception is management and general expenses, which have shown an almost nine percent decrease, in alignment with cost-reducing strategies we have heard member organizations report.