Follow the money: A look at USPSA’s tax returns part 1

Because USPSA is a 501c3 corporation, their annual tax return is available for public inspection. This is the form 990. It is available by requesting from the IRS, and USPSA should post them on their website, however I wasn’t able to find them. Fortunately, the USPSA Area 6 website has posted all of the available tax returns which you can view here. There is a lot of information in the USPSA tax return. We’ll start with the 2008 tax return, which is for the actual year 2007 and finish with 2013’s tax return, which is for actual year 2012. There are several items in each report that we’ll discuss, starting (of course) with gross revenue, expenses, program revenue, and program revenue per member. Program revenue is especially important, because that’s revenue directly derived from member dues, classifier fees, and entries in USPSA National Championship matches. Revenue per member isn’t a metric that is directly in the report. We’re interested in it because per member revenue growth is an important indicator of a healthy organization.

The 10,000 Foot view of the numbers
When reading the reports, it’s important to remember that all the reports are for the year prior. So the 2013 return is actual year 2012, 2012 is for 2011, etc. In part 1, we’ll focus on the big picture of USPSA’s numbers. We’ll continue the series next Monday.

2008 Return

  • Total Revenue: $1,637,944
  • Program revenue: $1,478,203
  • Total Expenses: $1,667,548
  • Members: 17,000
  • Program revenue per member: $86.95

Each return lists the membership of USPSA, some with greater degrees of detail. For example, the 2008 report lists “17,000” members where later reports will list a more detailed number. Program revenue per member is calculated by dividing program revenue by members, and rounding off to the nearest cent.

2009 Return

  • Total revenue: $1,613,118
  • Program revenue: $1,500,673
  • Total expenses: $1,792,813
  • Members: 17,000
  • PrRev/Member: $88.27

This report again lists “17,000” members. This report also reflects the beginning of the period of rapid growth in the shooting sports/gun industry at large, due to the massive upswing in gun ownership. This is also the second straight tax return where USPSA posted a loss.

2010 Return

  • Total revenue: $1,687,580
  • Program revenue: $1,592,729
  • Total expenses: $1,766,221
  • Members: 17,000
  • PrRev/Member: $93.69

Three reports which list USPSA with stagnant membership growth lead me to believe that the particular section of the report where that’s reported was simply copy/pasted for three straight years.

2011 Return

  • Total revenue: $1,825,700
  • Program revenue: $1,723,250
  • Total expenses: $2,000,020
  • Members: 17,000
  • PrRev/Member: $101.37

Come on. 17,000 members four years in a row? That’s just lazy reporting.

2012 Return

  • Total revenue: $1,807,750
  • Program revenue: $1,777,716
  • Total expenses: $1,749,744
  • Members: 20,725
  • PrRev/Member: $85.78

The 2012 return is interesting in that it was prepared by both the outgoing ED, Dave Thomas, and the incoming ED, Kim Williams. It also reflects a more accurate picture of membership than previous reports, which accounts for the sudden, dramatic drop in per member revenue.

2013 Return

  • Total revenue: $1,885,787
  • Program revenue: $1,776,477
  • Total expenses: $1,693,017
  • Members: $25,664
  • PrRev/Member: $69.22

Interestingly, the 2012 and 2013 returns reflect greater net revenue than expenses. They also show a two year continuing decrease in program revenue per shooter, and along with the 2011 return show a relatively flat line for program revenue, all around 1.7 MM dollars. Since 2008’s return, USPSA’s gross revenue has increased by $247,843, or about $41,307 per year.

Looking at those numbers, we get a pretty good picture of USPSA’s growth over the past 6 years. Both categories of revenue have increased, and membership has increased. While the per member revenue has dropped, that’s likely due in part to the relative lack of price increases in national championship match fees.

On Monday, in Part 2 we’ll take a look at where USPSA’s revenue streams come from and how that breaks down. Part 3 will focus on how USPSA spends its money, and finally part 4 will tie the revenue stream and expenses conversation to hopefully answer the question of whether or not USPSA is using your membership dues and match fees responsibly to grow the sport.


  1. It would be interesting if you included some quotes from the bylaws or any other documents that describe the roles of the officers of the USPSA, if those roles are in any way connected with increasing membership or revenue. In this way we could gauge the effectiveness of those officers.

  2. Huh, just hope no one at the IRS reads this and decides that the “lazy reporting” indicates a need for further audits. Not saying you shouldn’t post it – saying that USPSA probably doesn’t want the extra attention. Bookkeeping sucks.

  3. Interesting Note on the 2011 return. Notice USPSA is in the red $175k. That was a really bad year for USPSA accounting wise. Someone messed up big time. The following year, the office staff had to take big cutbacks in benefits. Also a number of contractors were let go, including Scott Moore who was running the Scholastic Steel Challenge program. He ended up leaving USPSA ans starting the Scholastic Pistol Program (which was almost a carbon copy of Scholastic Steel Challenge).

  4. “We’re interested in it because per member revenue growth is an important indicator of a healthy organization.”

    Care to provide a source or justification for the premise of your article? So would USPSA be worse off with 10,000 more members but slightly lower revenue ratios?

    1. Program revenue per member growth indicates that revenues are growing in a healthy ratio with membership. If membership of an organization expands without a corresponding expansion in program revenue, it becomes more difficult for that organization to perform it’s core services to its members.

      Also, we’re definitely still at the very high level overview. In the coming week I’m going to drill down into the revenue numbers, looking at membership dues vs members and costs of running other core services to USPSA, like Nationals.

  5. can connect dots between the $175k loss, and the departure of some contractors. a bird told me that the contractors charged huge fees, promised huge revenue (through scholastic steel challenge and marketng stuff), didn’t actually deliver anything, and then tried to buy the scholastic steel challenge from USPSA. Or maybe that’s all just a rumor.

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