Franklin Graham Halts Funds to Retirement After 'Unusual Reporting'

Franklin Graham will no longer accept contributions to his retirement plan from the two organizations he leads – at least until the current economic climate changes for the better.

Though Graham received no retirement funds during his first several years at Samaritan's Purse and no salary at all during his first year leading the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, the evangelist asked the heads of the two ministries' compensation committees to cut off contributions to his retirement plan "for the time being" and acknowledged to his local newspaper that his present compensation total "looks terrible" and that "people won't understand it."

"Nothing's been done that's bad," Graham told the Charlotte Observer, which first reported on Graham's total 2008 compensation. "It's a perception issue – but in the nonprofit world, you have to be careful of perceptions."

According to the Observer, Graham earned $535,000 from Samaritan's Purse and $669,000 from the BGEA last year as part of similar plans by the ministries' respective boards to catch up and eventually make way for Graham to work for free when he reaches the age of retirement in 2022.

Notably, however, BGEA revenue has fallen from $126 million to $93 million over the past four years and at least 55 workers were laid off earlier this year.

And while Samaritan's Purse saw its revenue climb last year, Graham's compensation there was by far larger than the $421,000 paid to the president of World Vision International, a relief agency with a budget four times as large, the Observer noted.

But in a statement issued jointly by the boards of the BGEA and Samaritan Purse, the ministries' directors pointed out that Graham's total compensation – including deferred payments to his retirement plan – from the BGEA over the three years prior to 2008 was approximately $100,000 below the median compensation of 1,200 CEOs of non-profit organizations larger than $50 million in America.

Furthermore, Graham's total compensation from Samaritan's Purse the past four years falls between the median and 75th percentile among large charities.

The figures look much larger than they are because of the deferred retirement payments and the "unusual reporting guidelines" for 2008 that required the BGEA to report three prior years' retirement contributions a second time in 2008.

"[I]n reality, there was no substantial increase in Mr. Graham's compensation in 2008," the members of the two boards stated.

Given this information, Graham's expected annual compensation from the BGEA "for the time being" should be much less than $360,000, as 44.8 percent of Graham's 2008 compensation was previously reported in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

His expected annual compensation from Samaritan's Purse, meanwhile, should be less than or around $430,000.

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