While I'm figuring most folks who work in nonprofits actually do know the following New York Times note, let's review:
Scrutiny of the N.F.L.’s domestic abuse policy this fall has brought attention to the little-known fact that the league (annual revenue: $10 billion and rising) is a tax-exempt nonprofit organization.
In 1966, when the N.F.L. agreed to merge with the competing American Football League, Congress gave it certain antitrust exemptions.
Lawmakers also confirmed that it was entitled to the same benefits as trade groups and chambers of commerce not organized for profit. (The teams, however, do pay taxes.)
According to the N.F.L.’s most recent tax form, Commissioner Roger Goodell was paid $44.2 million in 2012, making him among the best-paid executives in the country.
The nonprofit’s two largest donations to charity went to the N.F.L. Foundation ($690,000) and the N.F.L. Alumni Association ($450,000). At the same time, it gave $11,500 to the March of Dimes.
This month, Senator Cory A. Booker, Democrat of New Jersey, introduced a bill that would ban major professional sports groups from claiming status as tax-exempt nonprofits.
My question: accepting that the NFL is what it is, a nonprofit, what then should good governance, faithfulness to mission look like? It strikes me that the question we should be asking is not whether it acceptable that the NFL is a nonprofit, the question should be: how well is the NFL living up to its tax status. And, if we go another layer, what exactly should the NFL be doing to live up to its nonprofit status? And how do we know it's not if it's not? These are the important questions to be asked rather than quibbling over the reality that the NFL is indeed a nonprofit. And, if we need to ask these questions we should be asking them of the NFL board of directors, the folks who are looking out for the public's interest in overseeing the NFL.
The NFL boar would do well by letting the public know what their tax free dollars our buying in terms of outcomes and impact. Perhaps, knowing and understanding actually is the right solution over this concern of tax status.
And, that $44 million for the CEO -- again a misguied question that is really for the IRS and the NFL board to answer. CEO salary, as big as it may seem to the general public, may be right for the market. I might argue that if it cost me $44 million to raise $10 billion, I've got a really good deal.