Grantwriter Brings Home the Bacon . . . to Himself

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May 31, 2011; Source: Modesto Bee | In Modesto, Calif., a headline announces, “Modesto Nonprofit Executives Paid Modestly.” The article itself, however is a bit more complex, comparing the salaries of most of the areas nonprofit execs against the extraordinarily high and badly constructed salary of William Joe Gibbs, the grantwriter of the Stanislaus Community Assistance Project (SCAP).

Gibbs is, by the way, the husband of the executive director of the agency, which develops housing for low income, homeless and seriously ill people. Gibbs made $627,000 last year because his contract allows him 4 percent of all the grant money he brings in. SCAP’s annual budget is $7.2 million.

David Barnes who is a member of the Yosemite chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals says that AFP considers such deals unethical. "We believe in charging by the hour for our efforts, just like other professionals," Barnes said. "That's because when a donor — or the government — gives a charity money, they need to be able to trust that they know where the money is going."

Most of the money raised came from the city of Modesto prompting Barnes to say that the government should forbid such practices where their grants are involved. Among the worst elements of this story is the fact that the SCAP board of directors apparently did not know about the growing package of compensation until the fiscal year was over. How they might have missed it in an agency which employs only 20 people is not explained here but someone should be holding them accountable not only for this but also for not tightly overseeing the contract in that it involves the husband of the executive – or better yet, by instituting an anti-nepotism policy.—Ruth McCambridge

  • Linda Davis

    It is absolutely outrageous that an agency would compensate a grant writer with a percentage of the grant award. It is unethical at the very least, particularly when the grant is to assist low-income persons. This kind of greed makes the public think poorly of non-profits, the vast majority of which operate in a highly ehtical manner with modest pay scales for executives and staff.

  • Sarah H

    The grantwriter is the husband of the ED, and in a situation rife with opportunities for self-dealing, the board didn’t think to ask about the compensation arrangement? This is outrageous! As a grantwriter myself, I often must politely explain that I am paid hourly and do not take a percentage because it is unethical. If I had received 4% of what I’ve raised over the years, I’d be retired on a tropical island–or so my husband reminds me!

  • Liz Heath

    Sadly this highlights one of the little-discussed flaws in our nonprofit governance system. Board members simply do not take the time to understand and apply the principles of nonprofit leadership and ethics. It is conceivable that they did not know of the ethical prohibition against commission-based fundraising. Having said that, ignorance is no defense. They are, in my mind, liable for reimbursing these outrageous payments to the city.