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Southern Poverty Law Center

CharityWatch report issued
March 2019

CharityWatch Grade
This rating has been downgraded from B due to the charity having 6.6 years worth of available assets in reserve.
Program Percentage
Amount spent on programs
relative to overhead.
Cost to Raise $100
Amount spent to raise
$100 of contributions.

Large Asset Reserves

CharityWatch reduces the grade of any charity that has available assets equal to three to five years of operating expenses. Charities with "years of available assets" of more than five years receive an "F" grade regardless of other measurements. In CharityWatch's view, a reserve of less than three years is reasonable and does not affect a charity's grade. These reductions in grades are based solely on the charities' asset reserves as compared to budget. The CharityWatch definition of "years of available assets" includes funds currently available for the charity's use, including investments that the charity has set aside as a reserve but could choose to spend if it wanted to do so. Southern Poverty Law Center's letter grade rating has been downgraded because it has 3 or more years of available assets.

See Our Process to learn more about how CharityWatch considers a charity’s asset reserves and the High Asset List for a list of charities whose ratings have been reduced due to high assets.

Contact Information

Southern Poverty Law Center
P.O. Box 548
Montgomery, AL 36104

Other Names


Tax Status


Stated Mission

Dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society.

View similar charities
Data based on Fiscal Year Ended 10/31/2018

Program Percentage: 64%

The percentage of Southern Poverty Law Center's cash budget it spends on programs relative to overhead (fundraising, management, and general expenses).


Calculated Total Expenses



Cost to Raise $100: $15

How many dollars Southern Poverty Law Center spends on fundraising to raise each $100 of contributions.


Calculated Total Contributions


Joint Costs

Southern Poverty Law Center's rating was adjusted for Joint Costs. If you are a donor who considers direct mail, telemarketing, and other Joint Cost solicitations to be true charitable programs, the below efficiency ratios, which were not adjusted for joint costs, may better reflect your goals.

Program % Cost to Raise $100
72% $10
Accounting rules allow charities to report some telemarketing, direct mail, and other solicitation costs as Program expenses. CharityWatch believes that most donors do not consider a charity's solicitation activities to be the Programs they are intending to support with their donations. We therefore adjust such expenses out of a charity's reported Program expense and add it to Fundraising expense prior to calculating its rating.

Government Funding

0% to 24%

Percentage of cash revenue
coming from government sources


Financial Documents

Entity Document Type Tax ID
Southern Poverty Law Center Audited Consolidated Financial Statements Multiple
Southern Poverty Law Center IRS Form 990 63-0598743
Entity: Southern Poverty Law Center
Document Type: Audited Consolidated Financial Statements
Tax ID: Multiple
Entity: Southern Poverty Law Center
Document Type: IRS Form 990
Tax ID: 63-0598743

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.
Southern Poverty Law Center
meets governance benchmarks.
Southern Poverty Law Center
meets transparency benchmarks.
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

  Name Title Compensation
1 Morris Dees Chief Trial Counsel $416,948
2 Richard Cohen President/CEO $407,541
3 Wendy Via Chief Development & Communications Officer $284,749
Name: Morris Dees
Title: Chief Trial Counsel
Compensation: $416,948
Name: Richard Cohen
Title: President/CEO
Compensation: $407,541
Name: Wendy Via
Title: Chief Development & Communications Officer
Compensation: $284,749

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's rating of Southern Poverty Law Center is for the 501(c)(3) public charity entity (tax ID #63-0598743).

The rating does not include the financial activities of the related SPLC Action Fund, which was formed in June 2018 and has filed an application for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(4) social welfare organization, according to Note 2 of the Southern Poverty Law Center consolidated audit of October 31, 2018.

CharityWatch issues separate ratings for 501(c)(3) & 501(c)(4) organizations, even when they 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, click on the "Articles & Alerts" Tab (above), and read "Sorting Out Non-Profit Pairs."
According to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) tax filing for the fiscal year ended October 31, 2018, SPLC reports re: Compensation, Supplemental Information (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part III):

Regarding severance payments to officers, directors, trustees, key employees and highest compensated employees (Schedule J, Part I, Line 4A):

"Mark A. Potok, Senior Fellow, received severance payment of $76,635.03 for FY 10/31/2018."

SPLC reports $180,300 in total compensation paid to Mark Potok, former Senior Fellow, in calendar year 2017 (IRS Form 990, Schedule J, Part II).

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