Richard Tofel, treasurer and general manager of ProPublica, the group of journalists funded by private foundations, answering charges that leaders of the group are overpaid, said the group pays "market rates" in order to attract the finest journalists.

Pay/fringes/payroll taxes of the eight highest-paid employees totaled $2,049,935 in 2008, the latest figure available (from IRS Form 990). Total such pay for all employees was $4,005,731 in 2008.

Form 990 for 2009 will be available by Aug. 15, said Tofel (pictured).

He said the pay of president/editor-in-chief Paul Steiger has not increased since 2008, indicating he was paid $570,000 in salary for 2009 and 2010.

"In general," said Tofel in an e-mail, "salaries were frozen in 2010 at levels put in place on Jan. 1, 2009."

Salaries of Steiger, managing editor Stephen Engelberg ($451,972), and Tofel ($296,370) are "set by our board and are based on an independent appraisal of news industry comparables — it's the news business, not non-profits per se, from which we generally draw our talent, and we have aimed to pay market rates in all cases," Tofel said.

Since the salaries/benefits of the eight employees listed in the 2008 Form 990 totaled $2,049,935, the indication is that just over $6 million will have been paid to the eight as of the end of this year.

990 for 2009 Not Yet Filed

Tofel said that the 990 for 2009 is not yet ready but will be filed by Aug. 15, the second deadline for such filings.

First deadline is May 15 and the last deadline is Nov. 15 Non-profits have to request an extension if they miss one of the filing dates.
Salary information is available early in the year because companies have to give their employees W-2s by Jan. 31.

There is a 2009 financial report on the ProPublica website but it does not contain information on salary and benefits.

ProPublica is a 501/c/3 non-profit, a category reserved for charitable and educational institutions that must obtain a certain percentage of their funding from the public (such as the Red Cross and United Way).

The line between c/3’s and 501/c/6’s (trade organization) is often blurred.

The Arthur W. Page Society, which collects dues and offers many benefits to a select group of members, is a c/3.

Normally, anyone can contribute to a charity and “join” it. Only about 360 PR executives are members of Page, which has a number of membership requirements.