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Herps In The News Local or national articles where reptiles or amphibians have made it into the news media. Please cite sources.

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Old 02-18-2024, 11:49 AM   #1
Martin Nowak
Herptile Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Organizations per IRS

Herptile Non-Profit Tax-Exempt Organizations per IRS
Including Tax Schedule 990 – 2022 (if available)

There are many herptile organizations which solicit donations. Such organizations are in two broad categories: 1. Conservation and research; and 2. Rescue and rehabilitation. To receive IRS tax exempt status organizations must apply. Thereafter, these organizations must also submit a report annually to the IRS.

It seems to me, herptile charity IRS filings are “herps in the news”. The moderator may wish to move the post to another Forum. This is necessarily a lengthy discussion. However, herptile enthusiasts should understand how to research charitable organizations which seek hard earned dollars. There are scam herptile (and other) charities as well as charities which do not use majority of donations in their stated missions.

Before donating (or otherwise supporting), reptile keepers should understand the organization, its mission, use of funds, and its management. I am unaware of any comprehensive list of charitable herptile organizations. Research would suggest there are many small (<$50k / year donations) which are difficult to illuminate. Some large organizations are within a university and do not file IRS Form 990 and are difficult to illuminate. Universities are notorious for saving funds over using funds in the avowed mission. Some herptile charities cannot be found by using the tools because they are under another corporate entity or university. Often it is impossible to “tease out” the components related to herptiles. And some herptile charities file with the IRS under a different name than the name of the charity.

Included here are two tools to better understand herptile charitable organizations:
ProPublica Nonprofit Explorer: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/
Charity Navigator: https://www.charitynavigator.org/
Charity Navigator also provides a score of how well the organization meets its mission and how much of the donations go to the mission.

One should also look at the IRS Form 990 to understand the assets of the organization. It will surprise most readers how much some of them have in assets. University housed “charity” organizations are difficult to illuminate, but several have millions of dollars in assets. There is no way to determine how smaller charities use their dollars toward the avowed mission. It is my opinion if one cannot easily find – within the website – cannot easily find the charity’s leader(s) and board members then such is a red flag for not donating. Websites should also list the “advisors”. Large credible charities provide within their website links to annual reports and leadership. Many of the larger charities have board members or advisors from other related charities – even though presumably they compete for donated dollars. Executive and staff compensation from the charity is required by the IRS and listed in Form 990. University compensation may or may not be listed. Small charities (<$50k / year donations) can easily close as they approach $50k, and then re-open under another name; thus avoiding easy scrutiny.

Below I have selected examples of the permutations discussed above.

Charities in this list are IRS certified 501c3 charitable organizations. Donations are tax deductible. 501c3 organizations which receive less than $50k per year donations do not have to file Form 990; but must file a short form. Thus, low revenue organizations cannot be fully vetted. And as noted, there are likely many more such herptile “charities” in many states.

Orianne Society
Total Revenue: 2022 = $639,330; 2021 = $1,090,582
Total Expenses: 2022 = $1,157,107; 2021 = $992,233
Net Income: 2022 = ($517,777); 2021 = $98,349
CEO / President: Christopher Jenkins, PhD
Salary: 2022 = $143,095 (plus $50,824 “other compensation”)
Charity Navigator: https://www.charitynavigator.org/ein/262444068

International Reptile Conservation Foundation
Total Revenue: most recent 2020 = $11,497
Total Expense: most recent 2020 = $11,327
Net Income: most recent 2020 = $170
CEO / President: John Binns
Salary: most recent 2020 = $0.00

Center for Reptile and Amphibian Conservation
IPFW Center for Reptile and Amphibian Conservation
< $50k charity revenue / no Form 990 or hidden within the university biology department.
Bruce Kingsbury, Director
Science Building / Indiana – Purdue University
Fort Wayne, IN 46805-1499

Partners in Amphibian and Reptile Conservation (PARC)
Annual Reports: https://parcplace.org/reports/annual-reports/
Management and membership consist of Federal, State, and Fish and Game Commissions
< $50k charity revenue / no Form 990 or no direct donations but supported by “partners”.

Reptile Rescue Center
< $50k charity revenue / no Form 990
Janna Shepherd – Executive Director – Founder

Mystic Reptile Amphibian Rescue Shelter & Education
Per Washington State – company dissolved in 2023
Sought and accepted donations till tax exempt status revoked by the IRS for not filing 990 forms. Officers when active: Aleata Jordan, Dezhinette Chartrand, Leslie Rick, Lisa Swanson, Natosha Rogers
“The federal tax exemption for Mystic Reptile-amphibian Rescue Shelter & Education Center was automatically revoked on 15 May 2023 for not filing a form 990-series return or notice for three consecutive years. On 14 August 2023 the IRS posted the notice of organization's automatic revocation on IRS.gov”. (solicited and collected money for three years ?)

BeWild Reptile Rescue
Nicole D'Avignon - Co-Executive Director
AJ Hallatt - Co-Executive Director
Seeks Donations: https://bewildnc.org/support-us/
< $50k charity revenue / no Form 990

Amphibian and Reptile Conservancy (ARC)
Total Revenue: 2022 = 440,772; 2021 = $546,725
Total Expenses: 2022 = $593,542; 2021 = $520,069
Net Income: 2022 = ($152,770); 2021 = $26,656
CEO / President: Joseph J. Apodaca, PhD
Salary: 2022 = $110,000 (plus $0.00 “other compensation”)
Charity Navigator: https://www.charitynavigator.org/ein/371568787

Reptile and Amphibian Rescue Network (RARN)
< $50k charity revenue / no Form 990
Seeking Donations
Website does not identify owners or leadership

Herpetological Conservation International
< $50k charity revenue / no Form 990
Website indicates a Board and staff which appear to be volunteers
President: Myke Clarkson https://www.linkedin.com/in/myke-clarkson-65904343/

Turtle and Tortoise Preservation Group
Total Revenue: 2022 = $70,355; 2021 = $101,369
Total Expense: 2022 = $86,440; 2021 = $49,807
Net Income: 2022 = ($16,085); 2021 = $51,562
CEO / President: James Badman, Director; Russ Gurley, Founder and Director
Salary (both): 2022 = $0.00; 2021 = $0.00

Society for the Study of Amphibian and Reptiles – Robert Aldridge
St. Louis University Department of Biology
Total Revenue: 2022 = $969,449; 2021 = $386,544
Total Expenses: 2022 = $246,351; 2021 = $268,111
Net Income: 2022 = $723,098; 2021 = $118,433
CEO / President: Kirsten Nicholson https://people.se.cmich.edu/nicho2ke...lum_vitae.html
Salary: 2022 and 2021 = $0.00
Charity Navigator: https://www.charitynavigator.org/sea...+and+Reptiles+

The Amphibian Foundation
Under the umbrella of Southern Conservation Partners
Total Revenue: 2022 = $1,286,842; 2021 = $485,113
Total Expenses: 2022 = $723,490; 2021 = $413,177
Net Income: 2022 = $563,352; 2021 = $71,936
CEO / President: Charles Roe https://www.linkedin.com/in/chuck-roe-069ba579/
Salary: 2022 and 2021 = $0.00 both years
Charity Navigator: https://www.charitynavigator.org/ein/472181285

United States Association of Reptile Keepers, Inc. (USARK)
Total Revenue: 2022 = $1,138,301; 2021 = $1,006,936
Total Expenses: 2022 = $703,607; 2021 = $553,384
Net Income: 2022 = $434,694; 2021 = $553,384
CEO / President: Phillip W. Goss
Salary: 2022 = $135,000 (plus $0.00 “other compensation”)

USARK Florida
Total Revenue: 2022 = $497,016; 2021 = $356,910
Total Expenses: 2022 = $497,909; 2021 = $384,215
Net Income: 2022 = ($893.00); 2021 = ($27,305)
CEO / President: Elizabeth Wisneski
Salary: 2022 = $0.00; 2021 = $0.00

Charity Navigator: https://www.charitynavigator.org/
Old 02-18-2024, 08:31 PM   #2
Socratic Monologue
Great post again, Martin.

One hopefully helpful addition:

"Reptile and Amphibian Rescue Network (RARN)
< $50k charity revenue / no Form 990
Seeking Donations
Website does not identify owners or leadership"

At https://rarn.org/about/ the following are listed:

Sabine Bradley - Executive Director
Curt Steindler - Treasurer
Sharon King - Secretary

Something I've sometimes wondered, that I hope is relevant here: some "rescues" also breed and sell herps, or sell supplies. Besides the cognitive dissonance that might accompany that combination of practices, I wonder how those people/organizations handle their finances. Must the two practices legally be separate? Or, can the income from sales legally feed into the "rescue"?

The example that comes to mind is a herp rescue (who purports 501(c)(3) status) local to me that provides physical space and a mailing address to an "Invertabrate (sic) Breeder and Vendor". Incidentally, I've contacted this breeder/vendor in the past regarding their sales of regulated (=illegal) non-native mantids. The rescue also sells "supplies, enclosures, feeder bugs, and frozen feeders" (quote from their FB).
Old 02-19-2024, 08:54 AM   #3
Martin Nowak
Thanks John!
I need help with most things I do.

Legally (and ethically) non-profit (charitable) organizations must keep financials separate from for-profit activities. The for-profit entity may donate to the non-profit via acceptable trackable methods. It is even wise to keep both entities in totally separate facilities. Co-mingling of any aspect (e.g. money, feed, utilities, and so forth should be avoided). Both entities would have to submit separate tax returns as well. Your example sounds sketchy to me.

Often people do not fully understand the terms "non-profit" and "for-profit". Both types of organizations must make a profit in order to survive. Its simply how the profit is used. In non-profits the profit is funneled back into the charity for the charity's mission and in for-profits the profit can be used as the entity desires.

In the examples above, my opinion is the salaries appear appropriate for the size, responsibilities, and complexities of the organizations. In fact, those salaries can increase if the entities increase in size. There are non-profits whose CEO earns millions. One might disagree with such high compensation at some point on the size curve; but, non-profits are complex organizations to manage. (I spent most of my career in non-profits, and a portion in for-profit organizations.)

We all just need to fully understand any entity claiming 501c3 / charity status.

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