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National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation

CharityWatch report issued
January 2021

 
CharityWatch Grade
 

Contact Information

National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation
11250 Waples Mill Rd
Fairfax, VA 22030

Other Names

Friends of NRA
NRA Foundation

Tax Status

501(c)3

Stated Mission

Support firearm-related public interest activities to defend & foster the Second Amendment rights of law-abiding Americans; promote firearms & hunting safety; enhance marksmanship skills of shooting sports participants; and educate the general public about firearms in their historic, technological & artistic context.

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Data based on Fiscal Year Ended 12/31/2019

*Why a Question Mark Rating?

CharityWatch currently has concerns about this organization and/or is unable to provide complete rating information due to the organization's nondisclosure of financial information. Please see the Analysts' Notes section for a more detailed explanation.


Governance & Transparency

CharityWatch evaluates certain criteria related to a charity's Governance and Transparency. Donors may want to consider a charity's willingness to be open and transparent with CharityWatch to be a good litmus test for determining its commitment to public accountability.
National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation
does not meet governance benchmarks.
 
National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation
does not meet transparency benchmarks.

CharityWatch Governance Concerns

See Analysts' Notes for Explanation
Transparency
Provides Financial Information
Audit Accessibility
Governance: Policies
Reports regularly & consistently monitoring & enforcing compliance with a written Conflict of Interest Policy
Reports required, annual disclosure by officers, directors, and key staff of interests that could give rise to conflicts
Reports having a written Whistleblower Policy
Reports having a written Document Retention and Destruction Policy
Governance: Financials
Reports providing copy of tax form to all board members prior to filing it with IRS
Reports that financial statements were audited by an independent accountant
Governance: Board of Directors
Reports at least 5 voting board members
51% or more of voting board members reported as independent
Reports documenting minutes of board and board committee meetings
Privacy Policy
Privacy Policy No Sharing  

  Name Title Compensation
1 Wayne L. LaPierre Ex-Officio $1,884,709
2 Oliver L. North Ex-Officio $986,015
3 Craig B. Spray Treasurer $875,738
1
Name: Wayne L. LaPierre
Title: Ex-Officio
Compensation: $1,884,709
2
Name: Oliver L. North
Title: Ex-Officio
Compensation: $986,015
3
Name: Craig B. Spray
Title: Treasurer
Compensation: $875,738

CharityWatch Analysts perform an in-depth analysis of charities' audited financial statements and IRS tax filings, and often review other documents such as state filings, annual reports, and fundraising contracts during their evaluations. Below are select notes that CharityWatch believes may be of interest to donors.

CharityWatch has issued a "?" rating for the National Rifle Association (NRA) Foundation due to concerns related to its governance practices which may impact the reliability of the NRA Foundation's financial reporting. CharityWatch has also issued a Governance Exception for the NRA Foundation on the basis that it is currently under investigation by the Office of the Attorney General for the District of Columbia.

A July 12, 2019 article in The New York Times reported that the attorney general for the District of Columbia (DC AG) opened an investigation into the NRA and issued subpoenas "as part of an investigation into whether [the NRA and its related Foundation] violated the district's Nonprofit Act." The DC AG is interested in "examining 'financial records, payments to vendors, and payments to officers and directors,'" according to the article. The DC AG also intends to examine "whether the N.R.A. used charitable funds to provide private benefits to N.R.A. officials, and whether payments were improperly made by N.R.A. contractors like Ackerman McQueen, the association's former advertising firm, which paid hundreds of thousands of dollars for clothing and travel expenses for [NRA CEO/Executive VP] Mr. LaPierre," reports the NY Times. 

According to an August 6, 2019 article in The New York Times, a spokesperson for the Office of the New York Attorney General (NY AG) stated that the NY AG "has been scrutinizing whether the N.R.A. was using funds designated for charitable purposes appropriately, and if payments made to board members, officers and affiliated parties complied with relevant tax laws and fiduciary requirements." In August 2019 the NY AG "issued a subpoena seeking documents from more than 90 current and former members of the organization's board," in an effort to obtain information that "would shed light on spending decisions made by the board," according to the article.

[For links to referenced articles, please see Related External Articles in the "Articles & Alerts" section, below. For more information regarding the lawsuits against the NRA and NRA Foundation, see CharityWatch's August 2020 article: NRA and NRA Foundation Facing Lawsuits—NY AG Seeks to Shutter NRA; DC AG Accuses NRA Foundation of Misusing Charitable Funds...]

CharityWatch's rating of The NRA Foundation is for the 501(c)(3) public charity (tax ID #52-1710886). CharityWatch issues a separate rating for the related 501(c)(4) tax-exempt, social welfare organization, the National Rifle Association of America (NRA) (tax ID #53-0116130).

CharityWatch does not provide a rating for the other NRA Foundation affiliates, which according to Note 9 of The NRA Foundation 2019 audit, include the following: NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund, NRA Freedom Action Foundation, and NRA Special Contribution Fund.

CharityWatch separates the ratings for 501(c)(3) & 501(c)(4) organizations, even when the financial activities of the entities are included together in a consolidated audit, due to their differing tax treatments by the IRS. For more information on this topic, please see our sections on Types of Non-Profits, Tax Status, and Treatment of Related Organizations, which can be found on the Our Process page. For more information about things to consider when donating to organizations that have related public charity and social welfare entities, read "Sorting Out Nonprofit Pairs" in the "Articles & Alerts" section, below.

According to The NRA Foundation audit of December 31, 2019 (Note 9, Related Parties):

"The Foundation is affiliated with the NRA by virtue of the control vested with the NRA's Board of Directors to appoint the Trustees of the Foundation. The Foundation has received certain benefits from this affiliation at no cost, among which are various administrative and support services. Management has determined that the fair value of these benefits is minimal, and accordingly, no amounts are reflected in these [audited] financial statements.

"The Foundation reimburses the NRA for certain expenses, such as salaries, benefits and general operating expenses, paid by the NRA on the Foundation's behalf. These expenses totaled $15,377,886 and $17,482,315 for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively...

"During 2017, the Foundation extended a $5,000,000 short-term loan to [the] NRA expiring February 2, 2018, at an interest rate of 7%, whereby NRA's accounts receivable served as collateral. In January 2018, the agreement was amended to extend the loan to June 2, 2018 with interest to be paid monthly. The loan was repaid in March 2018, before the extended due date. In June 2018, the Foundation extended a new $5,000,000 loan to NRA expiring October 2, 2019, with monthly interest payments at a rate of 7%, and NRA's accounts receivable as collateral. Monthly interest payments continued on the outstanding balance between October 2019 and January 2020, when the agreement was amended to extend the due date of the loan to October 3, 2020. At December 31, 2019 and 2018, $5,000,000 was payable under the respective agreements. 

"The Foundation funded certain qualified NRA programs with grants totaling $12,073,526 and $13,498,464 for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively.

"The Foundation funded certain qualified NRA Civil Rights Defense Fund programs with grants totaling $25,535 and $96,000 for the years ended December 31, 2019 and 2018, respectively..."

According to The NRA Foundation 2019 tax filing, the Foundation reports re: Business Transactions Involving Interested Persons (IRS Form 990, Schedule L, Part IV):

(1) A transaction in the amount of $3,943,931 for "grant fulfillment merchandise" involving Crow Shooting Supply. In the column for "Relationship between interested person and the organization," the NRA Foundation reports: "Pete Brownell, Ex Officio, owns more than 35% interest of Crow Shooting Supply."

(2) A transaction in the amount of $2,417 for "grant fulfillment merchandise" involving Brownells, Inc. In the column for "Relationship between interested person and the organization," the NRA Foundation reports: "Pete Brownell, Ex Officio, owns more than 35% interest of Brownells, Inc."

(3) A transaction in the amount of $57,710 for "fundraising event merchandise" involving Nosler, Inc. In the column for "Relationship between interested person and the organization," the NRA Foundation reports: "Robert A. Nosler, Trustee, owns more than 35% interest of Nosler, Inc."


Related External Articles

NRA’s Bankruptcy Tossed Out in Setback for Gun Group’s Planned Move to Texas
Judge dismisses NRA's bankruptcy petition, allowing New York AG lawsuit to move forward
NRA faces internal woes as it girds for new gun control fight
The NRA declares bankruptcy: 5 questions answered
Judge rejects NRA bid to end or move New York lawsuit seeking its closure
Judge refuses to dismiss New York AG's lawsuit against NRA
NRA Trying To Change Venue With Bankruptcy Filing
National Rifle Association, at center of heated national gun debate, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection
N.R.A. Declares Bankruptcy and Seeks to Exit New York
Out of the Spotlight, D.C. Case Targets Abuses by NRA Charity
NRA reports alleged misspending by current and former executives to IRS
DC Attorney General Sues NRA Foundation for Diverting Charitable Funds to Support Wasteful Spending by NRA and Its Executives
New York attorney general seeks to dissolve NRA
Exclusive: NRA has shed 200 staffers this year as group faces financial crisis
Secret Recording Reveals NRA's Legal Troubles Have Cost The Organization $100 Million
New York Deepens Its Investigation Into the N.R.A.
A new Senate report is the latest threat to NRA's tax-exempt status -- and maybe its survival
New York Expands N.R.A. Inquiry to Group's Board Members
NRA chief executive received nearly $4 million retirement payout in 2015
Is the NRA an educational organization? A lobby group? A nonprofit? A media outlet? Yes
NRA Says It Receives Foreign Funds, But None Goes To Election Work
NRA Distances Itself From Curious Russia Trip
New York investigating National Rifle Association's finances
DC attorney general subpoenas NRA financial records in nonprofit investigation
District of Columbia Opens New Investigative Front Into N.R.A.