NOM and Their Secret Donors Can’t Handle Money, the Truth

If you harken back to our last couple of reports on NOM, you might recall that they’re basically grasping at straws at this point. Their recently-revealed 2010 tax forms haven’t done much to help the organization’s credibility. Now discrepancies in their financial reports are making NOM look less like a bunch of hateful, bumbling idiots and a little more like a couple of very wealthy haters using bumbling idiots as a mouthpiece.

In interviews with various media outlets, Maggie Gallagher states that NOM raised and spent $13 million in 2010. According to their records, they’re actually operating on a $1.1 million dollar loss having only raised $9.6 million dollars. Their budget, as reported to the IRS, designates $3 million for advertising, $1.2 million on their 17 employee salaries, $600,000 on grants, and $4 million–the largest amount–on “other” unnamed expenses.

Screencapped to save you from adding to NOM's pageviews

While NOM prides itself on its grassroots efforts, their list of donors tells a different story. Over two thirds of their 2010 budget–more than $6 million–came from two anonymous individuals. Though NOM’s overall budget has grown over the past 2 years, small “grassroots” contributions have decreased. Single donations of less than $5,000 have fallen from $1,760,000 (or 22 percent of total) revenue in 2009 to $800,000 (8 percent) in 2010.

Looking at their expenses, it becomes clear nearly all of NOM’s budget is coming from only 5 or 6 donors. Who are the anonymous donors and what is all that money being spent on? The real mystery is what all the secrecy is about. Are donors just afraid of being outed as homophobes or is there something more sinister going on?  Evan Wolfson of Freedom to Marry points out that “There certainly are people opposed to the freedom to marry [for gay and lesbian couples], but they are not the people that support NOM.” He believes that  “NOM is supported by a small group of secret donors; we’ve seen no evidence o the contrary. And they are a threat. Not so much NOM, but the anti-gay founders behind NOM. Money still is power.” Specifically, money is power in terms of government — lots of important legislative decisions are affected by lobbyists’ money, and as long as we don’t know who these donors are, we also don’t know what else they might be involved in, or who else they might be talking to.

Inconsistencies in NOM’s reporting has prompted investigations from Fred Karger (who you might remember as being amazing), who believes that the Mormon church created NOM as a cover for their work. The HRC has created an entire project, NOM Exposed, to track fundraising and spending. Their muckraking might help discover what’s really going on, but I can’t help but wonder what kind of things we could do if we didn’t have to spend our resources on organizations like NOM — maybe we would have more time to care for and enjoy our families if we didn’t have to spend so much time defending them.

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Laura is a tiny girl who wishes she were a superhero. She likes talking to her grandma on the phone and making things with her hands. Strengths include an impressive knowledge of Harry Potter, the ability to apply sociology to everything under the sun, and a knack for haggling for groceries in Spanish. Weaknesses: Chick-fil-a, her triceps, girls in glasses, and the subjunctive mood. Follow the vagabond adventures of Laura and her bike on twitter [@laurrrrita].

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  1. Well, maybe the recession has prompted NOM to be more economical with the truth.
    (there would be a *tish*, but we can’t afford cymbals any more.)

  2. who else wants a web series about an intrepid lesbian reporter who uncovers vast conspiracies behind the largest anti-marriage equality organizations in the country and goes on stake outs and gets chased by goons and such, and also has a spunky sidekick that she has crazy awesome romantic chemistry with? because i do. i really do.

    • This is what I was going to say! Unless my math is wrong, it’s an average of over $70000 per employee. That is crazy. I would kill to make that kind of money. (Figuratively speaking. I think. But I wouldn’t work for NOM to get it, so either way I guess I still have some morals left.)

    • It kind of depends – I work for an organization of a similar size, and our ED makes about 300K. I wouldn’t say that the salaries are astronomical given the kind of work done (i.e. lots of lawyers). Generally, nonprofits like this pay better than, say, social services nonprofits (which is its own kind of effed up, but I’m not trying to derail the conversation!)

      The troubling part to me is $4M on “other” expenses. It looks like they aren’t broken down further, which leaves them open to a lot of interpretation and skirting the rules. I wonder how much of that is lobbying and other activities that are forbidden for organizations with 501(c)(3) designation.

      • NOM, according to the screen shot in the article, is a 501(c)(4). According to wiki:
        “501(c)(4) organizations may lobby for legislation, and unlike 501(c)(3) organizations they may also participate in political campaigns and elections, as long as campaigning is not the organization’s primary purpose.”
        I don’t like what NOM does, but I also think it’s perfectly legal.

        • Also, it’s ironic that the title of 501(c)(4) organizations on the IRS website is “Social Welfare Organizations”. I guess NOM is fighting for the social welfare of like six rich people who dislike gay people?

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