Presentation at CalCPA Accounting and Auditing conference: “California GAAP” – A case study in valuation of donated medicine

October 16, 2019, 11:20 am

Image courtesy of CalCPA.

On October 24 at 3:55 I will be speaking at the California Society of CPAs Accounting and Auditing Conference where industry speakers and experts will provide comprehensive updates on current issues and emerging trends. The conference runs the 24th and 25th.

My topic is valuation of donated medicine in the not-for-profit community. I have the privilege of working with a 75 minute block of time.

If you are able to attend the session you will gain an understanding of the long-term enforcement effort at the federal and state level regarding valuation of donated meds. My concern is that the governor’s veto of AB 1181 is not the end of the enforcement actions considering what has happened over the last 9 years.

Title of the session is “California GAAP” – A case study in valuation of donated medicine.

Overview of the session from the conference schedule:

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More details on Food for the Poor’s settlement with Michigan Attorney General

October 11, 2019, 9:01 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previous discussion on 10/4/18 provided details on a settlement between Food for the Poor and the Michigan Attorney General.

Prior post provided explanation of the FFP appeal claiming 95% efficiency, the cost of 6 cents to provide a meal, and joint cost allocation of speakers who go out to raise funds.

I have obtained and read a copy of the settlement agreement with the AG.  There are a few more details that are worth describing.


The settlement agreement was effective 9/27/18. It was announced the next day.

FFP denies their appeals were misleading and denies any violation of state law. They also deny doing anything wrong.  The charity does recognize

“…that modifying its solicitations would better emphasize its impact, as well as achieve greater transparency. Food For The Poor worked with the Department to modify its solicitation materials and resolve the Department’s concerns.”

FFP agreed to pay $250,000 to two charities in Michigan which feed poor people. The charity also agreed to pay the AG $50,000 as reimbursement for their litigation costs.

Issues and resolutions

Efficiency claims 

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How big is the world of donated medicine?

September 25, 2019, 7:09 am

Pharmaceutical products and medicine on shelves. Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

All this attention on donated medicine got me wondering just how big the sector is.

There is a small number of charities receiving big volumes of medicine donated by the pharmaceutical companies. Those charities then get all those meds distributed to charity clinics and hospitals around the world. That is incredible work which is improving the lives of millions upon millions of poor people around the world.

So, how large is that sector?  Here is a bit of research.

For the charities I’m aware of, plus those that have been in the news over the last eight years or so, plus those on the record as being opposed to AB 1181, I looked up their most recent 990 on their website. For a few of the charities there wasn’t a 990 visible (or at least I couldn’t find it) so I pulled the most recent 990 from the California Registry of Charitable Trusts.

Data tabulated below is:

  • total revenue from 990 Part I line 12,
  • non-cash donations from 990 Part VIII line 1g (referred to as gifts-in-kind or GIK), and
  • disclosed amount of drugs and medical supplies on Schedule M line 20.

Amounts are converted to millions, then rounded.

Last column in the table is the dollar amount of drugs & medical supplies divided by total revenue. A higher percentage shows larger portion of income from donated meds, and thus a higher likelihood AB 1181 will have a bigger impact on the financials.

Only charities with over $20 million of donated meds and supplies are listed; charities below that level are excluded.

Summary of results

Table below includes 17 charities. Another 17 whose volume of donated meds is below $20M each are not listed.

I think there may be another dozen charities with donated meds in this sector. As I come across additional names and look up their 990s, this table will be updated.

For the not-for-profit organizations (NFP) listed, total revenue is about $8.9 billion, total donated items are about $8.1 billion, and donated drugs and supplies are about $7.5 billion.

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No GAAP violation but charitable solicitations are misleading – – Preliminary Decision issued for appeal of California AG’s Cease & Desist Order against MAP International, Food for the Poor, and Catholic Medical Mission Board.

August 30, 2019, 8:13 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

A Preliminary Decision has been written by the administrative law judge (ALJ) hearing the appeal over the California Attorney General’s cease and desist order (C&DO) against MAP International (MAP), Food for the Poor (FFP), and Catholic Medical Mission Board (CMMB).

I have obtained and read a copy of the Preliminary Decision for each of the charities.


Top line summary:  The ALJ concluded the charities did not violate GAAP in their accounting but did find their charitable solicitations were misleading and deceptive.

This will be a long read at over 3,400 words so you might want to get a fresh cup of coffee.

Two other notes. References to “Complainant” mean the California Attorney General.  This post will focus on the content of the decisions with lots of quotations and minimal interpretation. Several longer posts are needed to interpret, explain, and describe the implication of this case. I may add more discussion later. As I see others discuss this case, I’ll try to link to those discussions.

After describing the decisions, responses from each charity are listed.

Next steps?

I’m a bit fuzzy on the where this goes from here. It is seems obvious to me that the ruling is not yet effective.  I will string together a bunch of guesses on the next steps. Anyone bold enough to correct my wildly aimed guesses is welcome to do so.

So here go my guesses – – I think the decision will not go into effect until it is accepted or modified by the Attorney General.  So my guess is the AG will issue a letter declaring the Preliminary Decision in effect or reissue a modified C&DO or take some other specified action to make the decision effective. I’ll guess some sort of additional communication is also necessary to address a variety of technical issues not covered in the decision, such as address to send the check, contact point for future communications, consequences of violating the C&DO, and notice of appeal options.

The Preliminary Decisions say the charities must pay the penalty 30 days after the effective date. There is a separate requirement to provide a copy of the decision to all officers, directors, and employees within 15 days of the effective date.

Since one charity (MAP) indicates in their response to me that they will appeal, I’ll guess their appeal will be filed soon after the effective date, well before that 15 day time frame expires. I’ll also make an even bigger guess that given the strength of the proposed sanction on how to refer to program ratios, the other charities will also file an appeal.


Background on timing

In December 2018, the ALJ gave verbal explanation that he would rule in favor of the charities on the issue of whether the their financial statements complied with GAAP.

In January and February 2019 additional written briefs were submitted by the Attorney General (AG) and charities on whether the written appeals sent to citizens of the state were accurate or misleading.

On April 24, 2019 additional oral arguments were heard.

Then on May 24, 2019 the administrative law judge (ALJ) issued his preliminary ruling for each of the cease and desist orders.


Food for the Poor

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Minor change to AB 1181 on 8/12/19

August 13, 2019, 6:48 am

Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Subtle changes were made to AB 1181 on August 12, 2019 by Assembly member Limón (the bill’s author) and the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill was re-referred to the Appropriations Committee, which is still scheduled to hold hearings on August 19.

Two changes were made yesterday.

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Background on appeal of California AG’s C&D order for GIK valuation: Quotes from 2018 audit risk alert – part 7

April 4, 2019, 7:26 am

How do you value a pallet of those meds? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

Previous post gave background on the 2017 and 2018 nonprofit audit risk alerts from the AICPA. The timing and contents of the 2018 alert were discussed.  The small discussion of GIK in the 2017 risk alert was quoted.

This post continues with some comments on the 2018 edition and then a long quote from that document.

You might want to read the previous comments for background to this post. Also might want to get a fresh cup of coffee and maybe a snack. This will be a loooong post.


Not-for-Profit Entities Industry Developments – 2018 / Audit Risk Alert

The 2018 risk alert added extensive discussion of valuing GIK, with a particular focus on pharmaceuticals and even more so for those which have a donor imposed restriction on the use of asset.

Ponder for yourself how this discussion applies to an asset that is restricted for use by any party who gets subsequent possession of the asset at any point during the remainder of the asset’s life. Keep in mind, meds have to be destroyed at their expiration date.

Quite simply, for the meds under discussion the restriction on the asset lasts as long as the asset lasts, regardless of who has the asset.

Also ponder the materiality level of the valuation when my impression is the AG seems to be claiming there is something in the range of a 10:1 ratio of US prices to international prices. From the few examples provided by the AG in its complaint, I infer that ratio may apply to just about all donated GIK.

Think back to the days when millions of doses of mebendazole were being booked by so many charities.  Back then the ratio of US to international prices for that med was something in the range of 350:1 or even 500:1. (If you don’t believe me, take the $10+ inferred US price per pill which was routinely used to recognize income and divide by 3 cents or 2 cents or less per pill offered by multiple vendors in the international market. One charity was reportedly recognizing revenue at $15+ per pill.)

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Background on appeal of California AG’s C&D order for GIK valuation: Quotes from 2017 audit risk alert – part 6

April 2, 2019, 8:23 am

Where does one look to find a value for those medicines? Image courtesy of Adobe Stock.

In previous posts discussing the California AG’s cease and desist order against three charities, which you can read by clicking this tag, I have mentioned the 2018 audit risk alert from the AICPA. The Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) explicitly cited paragraph .56 as support for the charities’ position.

As mentioned previously, the discussion in paragraphs .53 through .57 was new in 2018. I can find no similar comments, or even reference to the issues, in the several years before.

Likewise, the discussion in the section title Challenges in Auditing GIK, found in paragraphs .172 through .181, was new in 2018. I cannot find any comparable comments in the 2017 or 2016 audit risk alert after browsing those documents and running multiple word searches.

The NFP audit risk alert is routinely published in the summer, with references to economic statistics such as GDP change, unemployment, and interest rates from the prior year fourth quarter. That means each year’s NFP risk alert is written and put into final form somewhere between late January (when 4th quarter stats start becoming available) and about April/May (allowing for editing and production time).

Update: On day after publishing this post, saw a twitter comment pointing to a webcast on May 1, 2019:  Not-for-Profit Entities: 2019 Audit Risk Alert. The webcast will update auditors on issues affecting their 2019 audits. This will be based on the 2019 edition of the risk alert. The 2019 edition is not yet available on the AICPA’s web site. I don’t know what their production cycle is, but the upcoming webcast suggests to me the document is nearing completion. It isn’t done, but getting close.

Here is a question for you to ponder for yourself:  Was the discussion in paragraphs .53 through .57 and .172 through .181 added to the 2018 NFP audit risk alert in response to the AG’s C&D order?

Let me spell out some of the things visible to me:

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