To deal with questions of financial control raised at last year's convention, the USHCC board has hired George R. Lasnier as the chamber's first CFO.
"The CFO was in our organizational chart for a number of years, but we just recently implemented it," says Mr. Gonzales. "The CFO was hired by the board and is responsible to the board," although he works with staff at the USHCC headquarters in Washington, D.C.
The latest financial information made available by the USHCC shows continued decline of its finances (see accompanying story, "Imbalance in the Books"). However, says Mr. Gonzales, "the progress we have made [in 2002] has been significant; I am anticipating that by this time next year, the organization will be in the black."
Mr. Gonzales, who is CEO of Texas-based public relations firm JRG Communications, has brought more transparency to the organization's workings. For example, members can access the election rules on the Internet at www.ushcc.com/03_criteria.html. "It was one of the recommendations of the task force," Mr. Gonzales acknowledges. "In this administration's overall effort to communicate better with members, we placed it on the Web site, along with certified mail, regular mail, e-mail, and fax blasts."
IMBALANCE IN THE BOOKS
Deficits sum to $1.71 million during the last four years.
The latest publicly available financial information from the United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce (USHCC) reveals that the organization had a deficit of more than half a million dollars in 2001. That follows three previous years of deficits, making a $1.71 million cumulative shortfall since George Herrera took over as CEO in 1997 (see table, "USHCC Finances"). As of March 31, 2001, the USHCC had a negative fund balance of $1.28 million.
According to Form 990s, the equivalent of a tax return for nonprofit organizations, revenues grew 21.2 percent in the last year of available data, and 125.1 percent in the last four, but total expenses grew even faster. The combination of operating expenses plus "other" program expenses has increased 163 percent during the four years, with "other" claiming the bulk of the increase (see table, "USHCC Finances").
The main sources of revenue in 2001 were the annual convention ($2.67 million) and television ($1 million) – a reference to the chamber's syndicated show Hispanics Today. Membership dues totaled $519,834, or 8.66 percent of all revenues.
Major program expenses included consultants and outside services ($1.64 million), advertising and promotion ($1.22 million), food and beverages ($343,261), and bad debt expense ($157,750). Costs for specific programs, such as the convention or the TV show, are not detailed in the Form 990. The USHCC's largest administrative expenses were salaries and compensation ($1.17 million), travel ($528,849), conferences ($267,366), printing and publications ($209,497), rent ($145,470), and legal fees ($134,551).
According to George Lasnier, the USHCC's new CFO, the "2002 Form 990 will contain the audited financial report for our fiscal year ending March 31, 2003." Because of the March 31 date, the 2002 report isn't due to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) until August 15. The IRS automatically grants an extension for three months if a nonprofit requests it.
To review all five years of publicly available Form 990s for the USHCC, visit the Web at www.HispanicBusiness.com/go/ushcc.
|Year||Revenues||Operating expenses||Other expenses||Surplus/deficit|
Source: United States Hispanic Chamber of Commerce 990 Forms.|
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