If its balance sheet is any indication, Donald Trump’s presidency has been very good for the Southern Poverty Law Center. The SPLC’s already impressive endowment grew a staggering 35 percent in fiscal year 2017 to more than $432 million. Including operating funds, total assets topped $477 million as of October 31, 2017. Total revenues and gains in fiscal 2017 exceeded $180 million, more than triple the organization’s expenses for the year, of just under $60 million.
The SPLC has long been considered a fundraising powerhouse, but 2017’s take was mind boggling by any standard. Donations were up 164 percent over 2016: The group took in $132 million between November 2016 and October 2017, compared with $50 million in the preceding 12 months.
While direct contributions produced the lion’s share of the 2017 increase, a booming stock market led to astounding growth in the SPLC’s investment portfolio. In fiscal 2016, unrealized gains came to less than $1 million; a year later they totaled nearly $45 million.
The SPLC, whose website touts its mission as “seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society,” drew fire last year because it keeps nearly $70 million in foreign investments in the Cayman Islands, the British Virgin Islands, and Bermuda, as reported by THE WEEKLY STANDARD. Non-U.S. investments this year are closing in on $100 million, totaling a little more than $92.5 million as of October 31, 2017.
The $60 million in expenses incurred by the SPLC in 2017 were split roughly equally between “legal services,” “public education,” and “support services” (which includes $12.6 million in fund raising expenses). Salaries make up about $11 million of the legal expenses, while “legal case expenses” total just under $3 million. Public education expenses included about $7 million in salaries, while publications cost about $3 million and “other educational projects” about $3.7 million.