As the National Rifle Association’s membership revenues are drying up, its current business model is looking less and less sustainable, according to a report from OpenSecrets.org.
After reviewing a third party audit of the NRA’s finances, OpenSecrets said the organization’s long-term fiscal health appears to be in question.
> The document offers the first look at the NRA’s finances in the wake of the 2016 elections. It shows that for the last two years, the NRA saw plummeting income from dues-paying members, and that has, in turn, fueled growing deficits.
> The NRA went big in 2016, breaking its own spending records to help catapult Donald Trump into the White House and protect Republican majorities in the House and Senate. The organization’s Federal Election Commission reports show that the nation’s preeminent gun-rights group spent at least $54.4 million boosting Republicans — with Donald Trump being, by far, the biggest beneficiary of that firepower, reaping $31.2 million in support.
> The NRA’s massive 2016 push was part of what ultimately became a $100 million spike in the group’s outlays between 2015 and 2016. But that spending wasn’t matched with similar growth in revenue, leaving the NRA with a deficit of more than $14.8 million.
OpenSecrets noted that it is normal for spending by organizations like the NRA to increase during election years and then trend downward in off-years, but the NRA still appears to be in trouble.
> [E]ven with such a steep decline in spending, the NRA — one of the wealthiest, most powerful political forces in the nation — remained in the red, as its revenues tumbled by $56 million.
> “Their current business model cannot be sustained the way it is going,” said Brian Mittendorf, an accounting professor from Ohio State University. “It can be sustained in the short term, but not the long term. The financial statements would indicate that.”
> “The big takeaway is that there were some red flags about their long-term financial health in 2016,” Mittendorf told OpenSecrets, “and nothing alleviates those concerns in their 2017 financials. If anything, it shows they’re coming to fruition.”