KBG’s Note:  We previously wrote about the Ironman Foundation here and here.  Lots of people asked us about the Foundation’s 2013 tax returns, which have since become available — the 2014 returns are not yet available — and below is Ryan Heisler’s analysis on the 2013 returns.  

Changes in the Foundation’s Organization and Accounting

Andrew Messick was announced as CEO of World Triathlon Corporation on May 31, 2011, replacing Ben Fertic. In a related change, this is the first year where Messick served in the capacity as Chairman of the Foundation; this role had been filled by Fertic through the 2011 filings of the Foundation. No person served in that role according to the 2012 filings. Additionally, Carola Ross replaced Jesse Dubey as Treasurer.

Also in 2012, IMF made the decision to switch from a Fiscal Year period to a Calendar Year period. This meant that their 2012 Form 990 only covered the tail end of 2012. This is the first year of the calendar year method of accounting.

General Financial Information

Reviewing the full 990, which is appended at the bottom of this article, there are a few noteworthy items:

  • The Foundation took in $1.9 million in contributions and grants. It paid back out $1.3 million in grants, $144,653 in salary, and $208,490 in other expenses. In total, the Foundation granted 68.9% of the contributions it received in 2013. By comparison, the Foundation had previously granted about 53% of total contributions.
  • The Foundation’s total net assets sit at $4.97 million, an increase in value of over $600,000.
  • Dave Deschenes, the Executive Director of the Foundation, is the only listed officer of the organization who receives compensation; in 2013, his reported compensation from the Foundation was $90,258. According to the filing, Deschenes worked on average 60 hours per week on the Foundation. No other officer (Messick, Ross, Steve Johnston, and Alexander Evans) were reported to have worked more than one hour per week on the Foundation.
  • The Foundation also spent $26,689 on “Event Expenses,” $38,896 on Travel, $31,382 on Office Expenses, and $42,314 on Advertising and Promotions.

Who Does the Foundation Give To?

For the most part, we don’t know. Only grants of $5,000 or more are required to be reported on Form 990. In 2013, 37.5% of all grants by the Foundation were larger than $5,000 and itemized on the form.

The five largest grants went to the following organizations:

  1. World Bicycle Relief: $110,444, donating cash for bikes to be built as transportation for people across Africa.
  2. GK 1 World Foundation: $66,041, a Phillipine-focused organization working to raise people from poverty.
  3. Madison Area Sports Commission: $40,000, which we detailed issues with in this prior piece on the 2010-2012 financials of IMF.
  4. YMCA of Greater Seattle: $26,000: features 13 locations throughout the Greater Seattle region.
  5. Scott Rigsby Foundation: $24,893: promoting, encouraging, and enabling healthy lifestyles for disabled individuals.

Just missing the cut was the Louisville Sports Commission, which received $20,000 in 2013 and has traditionally spent tens of thousands of dollars on an “Ironman event” according to their returns.

Also, IMF donated $138,541 outside of the United States. $72,500 was granted in North America under the label of “grants to organization to assist in carrying out the exempt purpose.” An additional $66,041 was granted in East Asia and the Pacific as “disaster relief.” No name of the organization(s) where these donations were made is listed.

In Total

Reviewing the original questions from “Is Something Rotten in the State of the Foundation,” then:

  • All Members of the IMF Board of Directors are Employees of WTC: this appears unchanged. Andrew Messick is CEO of WTC. Carola Ross is the Senior Vice President of North American Sales and Marketing at WTC. Steve Johnston is Chief Legal Officer of WTC. Alexander Evans was a Board of Director; as of December 12, 2013, it appears that he has moved on from Providence Equity Partners/WTC to take a position with Comcast. It is unknown whether he still holds this position with IMF at this time.
  • The Foundation Takes in More than it Grants: This has improved over the last few years, with 2013 being the year with the largest percentage of revenue to grants in our research.
  • The Foundation Made a $2.5 Million Loan to WTC: Although we still do not have a response from IMF or WTC regarding the purpose of the $2.5 million loan between WTC and IMF, IMF is still in process of recovering the loan funds. As of 12/31/13, IMF was still owed $526,911 from WTC. The Note is supposed to have been paid in full during 2014; we should see this in the latest set of returns, which should be available this fall.

In total, then, it would appear that the Foundation is moving towards further transparency. However, questions remain regarding the Board of the Foundation and the organizations it chooses to grant funds to.



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