Let There Be Transparency: The Minnesota 990s

Maybe it’s the approach of the holiday gift giving season, but I felt compelled to crack open my consulting document vault (which is usually closed to all but paying clients) and put together all of the Minnesota Orchestra Association (MOA) IRS Form 990s I have on file into a single downloadable file.

After all, it is the gift giving season.
After all, it is the gift giving season.

Given the recent events uncovered in Graydon Royce’s Star Tribune article from 11/26/12 and growing armchair analysis throughout online outlets, it seems appropriate to provide this sort of transparency to any interested party.

Although there are a few gaps (98-99 and 07-08), you’ll find each one of the MOA’s IRS Form 990 from the 1997-1998 through 2010-2011 seasons together in one convenient 19MB pdf file.

A Little Experiment On Motivation & Social Sharing

The last time an otherwise unavailable document was shared with Adaptistration readers (the Minnesota Orchestra Redline Agreement), I tested a new social share wall feature that required users to engage in a social network action before being able to download the file.

I want to compare that data against an honor system approach by simply asking any reader downloading the file to share this post, before initiating your downloading, through any one of the social network share icons at the end of the article.

Since the numbers of downloads and social shares for both efforts can be measured, I’m very curious to see which method produces the best download to share ratio. In short, is it better to require social action to access special data or will the honor system prevail?

I’m hoping the latter will triumph but regardless of what the metrics uncover, the results will be posted at the end of the week.

Sorry, this download is no longer available.

About Drew McManus

"I hear that every time you show up to work with an orchestra, people get fired." Those were the first words out of an executive's mouth after her board chair introduced us. That executive is now a dear colleague and friend but the day that consulting contract began with her orchestra, she was convinced I was a hatchet-man brought in by the board to clean house.

I understand where the trepidation comes from as a great deal of my consulting and technology provider work for arts organizations involves due diligence, separating fact from fiction, interpreting spin, as well as performance review and oversight. So yes, sometimes that work results in one or two individuals "aggressively embracing career change" but far more often than not, it reinforces and clarifies exactly what works and why.

In short, it doesn't matter if you know where all the bodies are buried if you can't keep your own clients out of the ground, and I'm fortunate enough to say that for more than 15 years, I've done exactly that for groups of all budget size from Qatar to Kathmandu.

For fun, I write a daily blog about the orchestra business, provide a platform for arts insiders to speak their mind, keep track of what people in this business get paid, help write a satirical cartoon about orchestra life, hack the arts, and love a good coffee drink.

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8 thoughts on “Let There Be Transparency: The Minnesota 990s”

  1. Drew, thank you for making these available. I look forward to your insights.

    Occasionally, my musician friends share articles/lists on Facebook about nonprofit CEO salaries — usually expressing shock at the figures. This leads me to believe that not everyone is aware that not only is this information public, but the last three years of any nonprofit 990s are available for free at guidestar.org. All nonprofit employees and arts-lovers/supporters should make use of this excellent resource to research organizations they work for and/or support, or are considering working for and/or supporting.

  2. Hello Drew. As it happens, I’m writing a paper on the situation for a class called ‘Non-Profits and their Environment’ at the Schulich School of Business in Toronto (where I’m focusing on Strategy as well as their Arts & Media Management programme). This was extraordinarily helpful, as the foundationcenter.org 990 filings seemed to stop at 2008.
    I’m just at the beginning of the process now, but I may check back in.

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