Random Thursday Thoughts

When non profits go wrong

In an earlier post, I mentioned that current and former New York Road Runner (NYRR) employees have taken to social media to promote #rebuildNYRR. These folks have launched this campaign to

. . . dismantle institutional racism and oppression, a coalition of current and former NYRR employees are calling for the immediate resignation of Michael Capiraso, President and CEO of NYRR


In my previous post, I shared a few posts that appeared on Rebuild NYRR’s Instagram page.

Let’s just say that I was pretty shocked reading these posts. It’s hard to imagine a nonprofit that does so much good (especially in the running community) would allegedly treat its employees like crap. This situation kind of reminds me of priests/pastors/deacons/ministers from those shady mega churches (or regular churches) that talk a good game about good will, charity, advocacy, etc., but they are the main folks living the most unChristian lifestyle.

So here’s my thing: Although NYRR does good work, should the running community make a fuss about what’s going on internally at NYRR? Keep in mind that NYRR has made several posts in support of BLM. Not really sure how one can support BLM, while BIPOC employees are feeling some kind of way about a toxic work environment? Does the organization really support BLM? Or, did it make these pro-BLM posts because it was the bare minimum thing to do? It’s easier to black out your Instagram page for a couple days than making changes to the status quo. Also, I am somewhat conflicted because I’ve always viewed NYRR as a pretty open and inviting organization. I’ve even met Michael Capiraso, president and CEO of NYRR, a couple of times, and he seemed pretty friendly. Then again, those two occasions were not super deep because the interaction was more of a “nice to meet you and thanks for volunteering” type of conversation.

Here’s a summary of the demands that Rebuild NYRR is seeking (a full list can be found here: ***):

  • Immediate removal of Michael Capiraso.
  • Conduct an independent pay equity audit.
  • Restructure Human Resources and accompanying policies and procedures to foster an anti-racist and anti-discriminatory workplace.
  • Communicate results from DEI audit, commit to sustained action by the new CEO.
  • Commit to DEI integration in all segments of business.
  • A new, external, President and CEO hired by a diverse search committee.
  • Conduct an independent audit on youth and community programming and investigate possible financial malfeasance.
  • Develop a philanthropy strategy that centralizes fundraising.
  • Board chairs commit to monthly all-staff check-ins until the new president and CEO.
  • Hire an independent interim CEO to lead the organization until a permanent and external president and CEO is hired.

Outside of the issues around a toxic work environment, there have been a few complaints about the allegedly shady financial situation at NYRR.

Mr. Capiraso’s base annual salary ($514,846 in 2018) is over two times higher than the NYC Median for nonprofit CEOs ($223,049 in 2020 according to salary.com)


I never understood how (and why) CEO’s of nonprofits make so much money. I mean his salary is higher than what the President of the US earns. Perhaps, these CEOs do more work than most US Presidents. 😉 I will say that he did volunteer to take a 10% (or was it 20%) pay cut to help prevent layoffs during the pandemic. What’s $50K when you are earning over a half million bucks as your base salary (I’m sure he receives other monetary bonuses).

There are also concerns with suspected unethical TFK [Team for Kids] fundraising as there is very little transparency and accountability to donors on use of their funds, beyond what is legally required.


I’m not too sure about this one because the organization prides itself on stewardship and promoting youth running programs. However, an organization does not have to go beyond what is legally required for financial transparency. What I mean, unless it’s mandated, I doubt that most organizations disclose all of their financials. Hell, has anyone seen Trumps tax returns yet?

At the end of the day, I hope that NYRR and its employees can come to some sort of agreement, because it would be such a shame for NYRR’s reputation to go down the sh*tter in this manner. That said, unless there is any major public outcry (e.g. when folks were going off about NYRR’s decision to hold then cancel NYC Marathon right after Hurricane Sandy in 2012) about what’s going on at NYRR, I do not see much changing.

Random: Speaking of the cancelled NYC Marathon of 2012, I think the then president of NYRR, Mary Mary Wittenberg, was in a damned if you do, damned if you don’t situation. But, at the end of the day, I agreed with the decision to cancel the marathon. I mean, Staten Island (the start of the marathon) was pretty much underwater and a large chunk of NYC did not have power or water for a few days after Hurricane Sandy.

Do you think large, nonprofit running organizations (like NYRR) more harm than good?

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  1. Non profits need more transparency. The BAA collects millions every year and I’ve never seen a report of how they spend their money. Do they support anything other than the Boston marathon?
    Every BAA executive I have seen is white.
    I haven’t done research, this is just my observation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • You are right. Back in my grad school days, I volunteered for a non-profit, and one of the folks told me that the organization spent most of it’s money on fundraising galas. Pretty much the organization needed to spend crazy amounts of money in order to make money. That nonprofit is not longer around . . . Perhaps, it spent TOO much on the galas.


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