The Financial Health of Our Organizations: NCBTMB

I’ve been on hiatus from blogging about the politics of massage and the massage organizations since 2016. It’s time-consuming, and I was just too overwhelmed during the sickness and subsequent passing of my spouse. Plenty has happened in the interim; on a happy note, I got married on July 5 of this year. In February of 2019, I accepted a job as VP of Sales & Marketing at CryoDerm. I also still do a couple of massages every week to keep my hand in, so to speak. During the past few years while I was on break, people have continued to contact me almost daily to report something going on and encouraging me to blog about it. I will probably never be as prolific a blogger as I once was, but I feel I can take a little time to jump back into the fray.

For several years, I reported on the financial status of our massage organizations, which except for ABMP, are all non-profit organizations that are obligated to release their 990 filings. Non-profits are on a different filing schedule than the rest of us, so this report is based on their latest filing for the year 2017. I thought that was a good place to begin again, so I’ll start with the finances of the NCBTMB, which I haven’t reported on since 2014. Click here to read that blog, as it will give you further insight into where things have been, and the direction it appears to be heading. As most of Massage Land is aware, the NCBTMB got out of the licensing business after the MBLEx nearly obliterated their status as the sole path to licensing, except for the few states that had their own. They now offer Board Certification, several specialty certifications, and still administrate the Approved Provider program as sources of revenue.

No announcement has been made about it by the NCBTMB, but Steve Kirin, CEO for the past 8 years, departed in October and has not been replaced. Portia Resnick, the current president of the Board, is acting as interim CEO. Kirin’s salary was reported less than $150,000 a year, which was a very big come-down from some of the previous CEOs. In 2007, when the NCBTMB was in its heyday, the CEO was making over $250,000 and the organization’s revenue was over 8.6 million dollars. Things are obviously not what they used to be back when they were administering thousands of National Certification exams every year. The figures don’t lie, so any comments or criticism from me seem extraneous at this time.

You can set up a free account at Guidestar to see 990 filings from any non-profit (or pay a premium to get more information).

 2018 filing (for the tax year beginning 03/01/2017- 02/28/2018)Note that the NCBTMB filed a change of accounting period in 2017. This return covers only two months from 01/01/2017-02/28-2017. 2017 filing (for the tax year beginning 01/01/2016- 12/31/2016)2016 filing (for the tax year beginning 01/01/2015-12/31/2015
Program Service Revenue1,324,304225,7751,509,4902,015,353
Investment Income34,2151,84815631,568
Other Revenue21,3523,86631,118188,939
Total Revenue1,379,871231,4891,540,7642,235,860
Salaries, other employee compensation, benefits838,837136,246897,2061,066,871
Other expenses689,053188,0391,031,6861,137,897
Total expenses1,527,890324,2851,928,8922,204,768
Revenue less expenses-148,019-92,796-388,12831,092
Total Assets885,018964,5001,006,4541,338,085
Total Liabilities265,700245,257218,547221,017
Net Assets or Fund Balances619,318719,249787,9071,117,068

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: AMTA

This is the fourth year that I have reported on the financial status of the non-profit organizations that represent the massage therapy profession. I am not an accountant or a financial expert. The information is taken from Guidestar, a clearinghouse where you can look up the financial filings of non-profits.

This blog has been revised–after I posted the original blog, Guidestar posted AMTA’s latest 990. Since non-profits have a different filing schedule that the rest of us, it is not unusual for the “latest” 990 appearing on the website to be a year old or more. This revision reflects the 2012 filing. It was signed in October of 2012 and just made it to the Guidestar site within the past week. Thank you to Rachel Mann, VP of AMTA Board of Directors, for bringing it to my attention.

The American Massage Therapy Association is showing a net revenue of over $419K, compared to their loss for the previous year of almost $110K. Glad to see they’re out of the hole.

The revenue increased over $600K from the previous year.

AMTA compensates the members of their elected Board of Directors, in amounts ranging from $5000 for members-at-large to almost $40K for the President (during this filing, that was Glenath Moyle.) Executive Director Shelly Johnson was paid almost $261K–a drastic cut from the $316K plus almost $10K in “other” compensation that was paid out on the 2011 filing to the immediate past ED, Elizabeth Sublewski (aka Liz Lucas).  Sublewski also received severance pay of over $82,000 on the 2011 return. On the 2012 return, she received almost $260K….apparently, it was quite expensive to the organization to get Sublewski off the job. My hope is that in the future, AMTA will negotiate executive contracts that are more favorable to the organization. Total salaries accounted for about 3.5 million; that is actually almost $500K less than they were the year before.

Over $11 million dollars worth of AMTA’s revenue came directly from membership dues. The remaining revenue is derived from sales of literature, convention sponsorships and booths, advertising, and investments.

AMTA has the same kind of expenses that any other business or organization does–office supplies, information technology, advertising, postage, banking and credit card processing fees, and so forth. None of it looks out of line, considering the size of the organization. AMTA represents over 57,000 members. They’ve seen recessions come and go and have survived them all. As a long-standing member myself, I have never seen service suffer in any way, whether it was a fat year or a lean year.

As an aside, I hear that Executive Director Shelly Johnson is stepping down later this spring to spend more time with family. She has done an excellent job during the 8 years she spent as Deputy Director, and since she stepped up into the ED position in 2010. She will be missed by the organization, and I wish her the best of luck.

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: NCBTMB

Note: For the past few years I have done a series of reports on the financial status of the non-profit organizations that represent the massage therapy profession. I obtain this information from Guidestar, a financial information clearinghouse for non-profits. The organizations can provide their Form 990 (Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax) to Guidestar, and if they don’t, the IRS does it for them. I will state for the record that I am not an accountant or a financial analyst; I just report what I see (and maybe offer a few opinions). I usually get asked the question every year why I am not reporting on ABMP. Associated Bodywork & Massage Professionals is a privately-owned for-profit company, and they are not obligated to release their financial information. Non-profits are on a different filing schedule than the rest of us, and there is variance amongst them in when their fiscal year ends. The deadline for filing is the 15th day of the fifth month after the end of their fiscal year. An organization can also request and receive up to two 90-day extensions, and due to the number who haven’t filed yet for 2011, it appears that some of them have done that.

The National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork has filed their 2011 Form 990 in a timely manner so I’m going to start with them this year. I’ll be following that up with my report on the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards. The financial status of these two organizations are intertwined for one reason: since it’s introduction in 2008, the MBLEx has taken a substantial market share of the entry-level exam market away from the NCBTMB. For many years, the NCBTMB exams were enjoying a monopoly, except for the few states that require their own exam.

In 2008, the first year that the MBLEx was available, the NCBTMB’s revenue from exams was in excess of $6 million. By 2011, that had dropped to $3,380,813. Instead of a monopoly, they had a 47% share of the market. I confess that I was expecting it to be even less, since the Federation has relentlessly encouraged their member states to use the MBLEx exclusively. I think the fact that the NCBTMB has retained as much as they have is proof that plan has not yet come to fruition. The income at the NCBTMB from people recertifying dropped by a little over $5k, and sales of their exam guide were down about $17k. Sales of their mailing list also took about a $20k hit this year.

They are showing a total revenue of $5,357,738 for 2011. From 2010 to 2011, the NCBTMB’s total revenue went down to the tune of $443,312. That’s not exactly a shocking figure in this time of recent recession.

The 2011 return, due to the timing of the NCB’s fiscal year, reports the salary of former CEO Paul Lindamood; although the filing was signed by his replacement Mike Williams. Lindamood’s compensation and benefits amounted to over $257,000. No word on what Mike Williams is doing the job for. Non-profits have to report the breakdown of compensation of officers, directors, trustees, key employees, highest compensated employees, and independent contractors. All together, the NCBTMB paid out over $1.7 million in compensation during 2011. Their other major expense is over $1.3 million in exam administration fees.

The bottom line is what tells the tale for most businesses–for profit or not–and their net revenue after expenses for 2011 is $227,326 which is down over $240,000 from 2010.When you consider that during Paul Lindamood’s reign at the helm, the organization went from being almost $270,000 in the hole in 2009 to having a net income of over $469,000 in 2010, it looks like it’s time to either slash expenses, the way he did, or generate more money.

That’s exactly what the NCBTMB hopes will happen in the coming year(s) on both fronts. They are rolling out the new rules for national certification, as well as the new rules for continuing ed providers, and doing away with organizational approval. The requirement that each individual be approved as a provider in their own right should generate some additional funds. The new rules for becoming nationally certified, in my humble opinion, is initially going to cause a further decrease for them. Since the new rules are jacking up the education requirement from 500 hours to 750, and requiring 250 hours of work experience, that will automatically disqualify people who might have otherwise taken the exam for entry-level licensing. The NESL is still an option in some states, but with the entry-level exam revenue steadily declining for the past four years, and the MBLEx becoming more firmly entrenched with the member states as time goes on, I’d be surprised if they don’t continue to lose ground in that market.

Their expenses could go back down. The application and recertification processes are online, and that’s going to knock a few staff members out of a job. They spent about $40k more in 2011 attending conventions than in 2010. I feel that they should be present at all major massage meetings, so I don’t begrudge that money…conventions are never held at Motel 6 so unless I’m an invited speaker, I feel that one in my own pocketbook. Legal expenses also increased by about $13k this year, but lobbying decreased by almost that same amount. It does cost money to go in and challenge a state that is considering dropping your exam–or appealing to one that has already dropped it to reinstate it.

On a positive note, total assets increased by about $70k, while total liabilities decreased by about $142,000.

All in all, it wasn’t the best year they’ve ever had–and it wasn’t the worst, either. The NCBTMB has had some administrations in years gone by that seemed hellbent on bankrupting the organization. I feel pretty safe in saying that isn’t the case here; they have some dedicated staff and board members that are determined to make it work, and we’ll just have to wait and see what happens. In the meantime, their new website is very snappy. You can check it out and all the new changes they are implementing at


Transparency, when defined in the context of non-profit organizations and public boards, implies that said organizations are accountable to those they represent, that meetings and communications are open, that full financial disclosures are made public, and that all business practices are an open book. It’s an ethical obligation.

I’ve recently posted on my blog my second annual series of reports on the financial health of the non-profit organizations representing the massage profession. As my disclosure states, I am neither an accountant nor a financial expert. All of the information I used to prepare my blogs was taken directly from

Guidestar was founded in 1994 as a clearinghouse of information on non-profit organizations. The IRS Form 990 and any other filings required of non-profit organizations, as well as other data collected by them, is published on the website. They have data on every entity registered with the IRS as a non-profit organization.

It is a rule of the IRS that information on non-profits is publicly disclosed, including the compensation of key personnel. The organizations listed with Guidestar have the opportunity to post their filings themselves, and if they choose not to do that, Guidestar gets it straight from the IRS. I want to make it clear that the information I blogged was not some big secret that I received from one of my anonymous sources. It is public information and anyone who goes to the trouble to look it up can find it. I just saved you the trouble by publishing it in my blog, for those who are interested.

I almost went into a state of shock when I received an e-mail from one of our leaders who was upset with me for publishing that compensation. The statement they made to me was that it was their personal and private information–sorry, but that ain’t so, when you work for a non-profit–and that I was doing more harm than good by publishing it, that it would be taken out of context and that while others who administrate non-profits would understand, that the average massage therapist would not understand why their pay is what it is. I actually did not imply in any way that the person was overpaid, because I don’t believe they are. I call it like I see it and if I thought that, I would certainly say so.

I conducted a little informal poll on Facebook, and out of 51 responses, 50 of them agreed that I was promoting transparency by printing the information. The one dissent actually wasn’t a dissent; it was more of a sympathy note of understanding why people don’t want their salary revealed.

If you work for a for-profit company, then it’s certainly your prerogative to keep your income a secret–to a point–because even large corporations have to disclose the salary of their top brass. And if you work for a non-profit, especially one that claims to promote transparency, then disclosure is a given–as well it should be.

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: NCBTMB

This is the second year that I have written a series on the financial status of the non-profit organizations associated with the massage therapy profession. I am not an accountant or a financial expert. All the information in my blogs on this subject is available for public viewing on, which is a clearinghouse of information on non-profit organizations.

There’s good news, and there’s bad news. The bad news is that like some of our other non-profit organizations, the National Certification Board for Therapeutic Massage & Bodywork has taken a substantial financial hit during the past reporting year. In this particular instance, it can’t be blamed entirely on the recession; the MBLEx has taken a big chunk of change out of the exam revenues of the NCBTMB–over one million dollars in the past year alone.

Income from the sale of the mailing list decreased by over $30,000, which may also be indicative of the financial status of other businesses and organizations who have previously purchased the list. There’s always a trickle-down effect during a recession.

The good news is that recertification revenues actually rose by over $187,000; it’s good to know that I’m not the only one who values my National Certification enough to keep it up.

I also have to applaud the NCB for the way they have cut expenses. Their belt-tightening is nothing short of impressive. When revenues go down, expenses should go down (albeit not at the expense of customer service), and apparently not all our organizations get that concept, as I have pointed out on a previous blog or two. I think the general public relates well to that…when you earn less money, you have to spend less money.

Compensation to officers, directors, trustees and key employees was decreased by $418,000. Other salaries and wages were decreased by almost $160,000. Legal fees were down by more than $321,000. Advertising and promotional fees, office expenses, conference and convention expenses, printing expenses and other expenses decreased. Altogether, the NCBTMB cut expenses more than 2.4 million dollars from the previous year.

Paul Lindamood, CEO, drew a salary of $230k. Board members are also compensated at the NCBTMB; Chair Neal Delaporta is listed as devoting an average of 17 hours per week to the NCB and was compensated $55,000 for that service. Other Board members received anywhere from $3000 to over $13,000 for their part-time service. Former COO Laura Edgar Culver received more than $128,000.

Lindamood had personally stated to me earlier this year that the organization was doing everything possible to cut expenses, and I am happy to see that has in fact been done. Assets have increased and liabilities have decreased.

When the economy goes down, charitable contributions go down. I am particularly glad to report that in spite of the harsh financial hit the NCBTMB has taken, they still managed to donate $10,000 to the Massage Therapy Foundation. I think that shows commitment to the good of this profession. They could have easily said “we can’t afford it this year,” but they didn’t. Kudos to them.

I hope the recession is winding down for everyone, all the small business owners, all those who work in our profession and support industries, and our non-profit organizations as well.

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: FSMTB

This is my second year of doing an annual report on the financial status of the major non-profit organizations of the massage therapy profession. I am not an accountant or a financial expert. This information was taken directly from FORM 990, the Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, which is published on Guidestar.

If there’s such a thing as a poster child for good finances in these economic times, it’s the Federation of State Massage Therapy Boards.

It was reported at last month’s annual meeting that the Federation had paid off their $700,000 start-up loan 27 months early.

The 990 shows an increase in total revenues of over $1.2 million from the previous year, a decrease in liabilities, and an increase in assets. Of course expenses increased, but when revenues take that big a jump, so do the expenses related to generating those revenues, particularly the money paid to the exam administration company. That amount increased about $600K, due to the rapid increase in the number of students taking the exam. The Federation’s revenues come from the MBLEx and from the annual dues paid by the member boards, currently numbering 40.

Executive Director Debra Persinger received an annual raise of $38,500. The FSMTB also moved into more spacious offices in Overland Park, KS this year and as announced at the 2009 meeting, added another staff member. Persinger had previously been the sole employee since the inception of the Federation.

One noteworthy point is that the Board members of the FSMTB are not compensated at all, other than their travel expenses to and from meetings and expenses directly related to Board business. According to the filing, Board members spend 10-15 hours per week on FSMTB business. As a state Board member myself, I can relate to that.  Serving on any Board is time-consuming. The FSMTB Board members deserve recognition for serving without any per diem.

Congratulations to the FSMTB for doing such an impressive job in the middle of a recession.

The Financial Health of Our Organizations: COMTA

This is my second year of doing an annual report on the financial status of the major non-profit organizations of the massage therapy profession. I am not an accountant or a financial expert. This information was taken directly from FORM 990, the Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax, which is published on Guidestar.

COMTA is the Commission on Massage Therapy Accreditation. Obtaining accreditation from COMTA is a voluntary and rigorous process that few schools choose to go through; of the hundreds of massage schools and programs in the US, only about 100 have the credential. It is a banner of excellence, requiring that the school do an in-depth self-study and meet high standards meant to insure that they are offering a program and learning environment of the highest caliber.

Non-profits are on a different filing schedule than the rest of us; this form covers the fiscal year of COMTA from 03/01/08 to 02/28/09, and was filed in January of 2010.

COMTA appears to be another organization that has taken a hit due to the recession. In this particular case, COMTA’s financial state this year may be partially attributed to the fact that AMTA’s fiscal year ending 2008 filing shows a grant of over $261,000 to COMTA; no such contribution was forthcoming in the fiscal year ending in 2009. In fact, COMTA’s Schedule A shows that 2008 was the first year that they haven’t received grants totaling at least $240,oo0.

When a non-profit depends largely on grants and public support, and a recession hits, that’s not a good thing. COMTA’s return is showing a deficit of over $277,000 for the year. Expenses go on, whether there’s money coming in or not. And of course COMTA does not rely only on largesse; the organization received $271K in program revenues and investment income, but expenses were just a few thousand dollars short of being twice that amount.

For the fiscal year, the balance sheets show assets of $462,165 at the beginning of the fiscal year, and only $191,213 at the end of the fiscal year. COMTA’s expenses do reflect a decrease of about $15K spent on site visits to schools. The 2008 Form reflects that the then-Executive Director, Stephen Fridley, received a little over $49,000 that year, down from $66K the previous year; that may be accounted for his departure in the midst of a fiscal year; Kate Henrioulle, the present ED, took over the job May 1 of 2009.

In the general scheme of things, I’d like to see the number of schools and programs that are COMTA-approved multiplied exponentially. The organization has been approved by the US Department of Education as an accrediting body since 2002. In order for the organization to be self-supporting, that really needs to happen.

When a recession hits, and donations dry up, only those organizations that can make it without those grants and contributions can survive. And part of the fallout of the recession is not only a lack of grant money, but also that schools who perhaps had planned on seeking COMTA approval may have held off in the past couple of years due to their own financial  issues. Hopefully COMTA isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.