JDRF Payroll Doubled and Research Grant Spending Cut in Half Over Past Decade

March 21, 2019
This report examines JDRF’s Payroll Expenses, which includes salaries, bonuses, and all other staffing expenses. As illustrated in the opening chart, over the last 10 years JDRF Payroll Expenses have doubled while JDRF Research Grant Spending has been cut in half.

In addition, the amount of Payroll Expenses has been nearly equal to the amount of money given to support research grants since 2015, corresponding directly with the tenure of the current CEO. In every year prior to 2015, the amount of money spent on research grants was always materially higher than the amount spent on payroll.

JDRF Payroll Expenses vs. Research Grant Spending (First View)

  • JDRF Research Grant Spending decreased from $156.4m in 2008 to $84.7m in 2018.
  • JDRF Payroll Expenses increased from $50.1m in 2008 to $81.4m in 2018.
  • Said differently, JDRF Payroll and Related Expenses have increased by 59% over the past decade while research grant spending has declined 46%.
  • JDRF has not publically acknowledged this dramatic decrease in research grant spending or the incredible increase in the amount of money that goes to JDRF Payroll Expenses.

2008 vs. 2018 Annual Spending Change (In millions)

  • Payroll Expenses have seen a greater increase compared to every other major JDRF spending category over the past 10 years.
  • During the same time frame, research grant funding, the most important and strategic job of JDRF, declined by $71 Million.
  • Based upon this straightforward analysis, it appears that increases in payroll, both in salary increases and hiring of new staff, were paid for by a decrease in research grants.
  • Donors must decide if this is an appropriate trade-off and should vocalize their concern if they disagree with this shift.

JDRF Payroll Expenses by Category 2008 Vs. 2018 (In millions)

  • Payroll Expenses are broken-up into four categories, as indicated in the chart above. All four categories have increased from 2008 to 2018:
    • Research and Support: Payroll related to staff who identify and manage research grant making. This category grew by +133%.
    • Public Education : Payroll related to staff who provide education materials and lead advocacy programs. This category grew by +68%.
    • Fundraising: Payroll related to staff who lead and implement all fundraising activities. This category grew +46%.
    • Management and General: Payroll related to the executive management staff, including CEO, CFO, etc. This category grew +22%.
  • Executive pay levels for the top 5 highest paid employees increased by 50% from $1.7m in 2008 to $2.6m in 2018.
  • Executive pay for the top 10 highest paid employees nearly doubled from $2.3m to $4m between 2013 (the most recent year this data is available) and 2018.
  • The number of employees who made more than $100k increased from 118 to 162 between 2013 and 2018.

The goal of the JDCA in preparing these reports is to provide financial donors and fundraisers with high-quality information written in an easily accessible format. All data presented in JDCA reports is sourced from official, publically available JDRF audited financial documents. We hope that this information will enable charitable giving decisions that fulfill the donor’s objectives and priorities.

We believe that every organization benefits from an external perspective and open dialogue. While some of the information we report is critical, the intent is to ultimately help all participants become stronger fundraisers, financial contributors, and researchers. Accountability is essential for exceptional performance.

I gave up donating to these scammers decades ago. All they do is sell false hope to newly diagnosed diabetics (cash-cows).

If you do not pay people enough, you will not get the best employees. And a lot of the non-research spending is the education expense, which is vital.

So you think the best use of donations is payroll and not research grants?

No, what I was defending was education, which is as vital as research. And education must be done by well-informed employees. Also, a lot of research is being done by private companies who stand to make money from their research (such as development of artificial pancreas systems or new drugs). Some research which does not have a financial reward does need funding, such as comparison of mortality rates from 20% vs 40% vs 60% carbohydrate diets. But, once the research has concluded, then the diabetic community needs to hear about it and learn what they need to do to take care of themselves in the best manner possible.

I think the Payroll vs Research numbers can skew the impact a bit. Of course, all of us would like to see higher Research grants. However, we love our local JDRF office and all of the support they give us. They facilitate us having a community of others going through the same experience, and that has been invaluable for us and for our T1D 11 year old. The largest category noted in Payroll was Public Education which comprised Education material and leading advocacy programs. Thanks to these efforts, we have an appropriate 504 plan in place for our daughter, and we were pretty much clueless before hearing about it as a JDRF event. We felt alone and isolated after my daughters diagnosis, and JDRF connected us to a local community that has helped us so much.


Hi there. I’m glad to hear you have an active JDRF office. Sadly the office out here in Arizona spends too much time focused on the $1,000-per-head balls and not enough time developing a robust Type 1 community. I’m originally from NJ, so this was an unfortunate surprise to me when I moved here. They do a less than stellar job with the annual Walk as well. I lived in Scottsdale and was unaware that the walk was happening one town over. It kills me. I won’t lie; I am cynical about JDRF now like I’ve not been in the past.

I’ve been a diabetic now for more than 36 years. When I was diagnosed, consumer blood testing machines were brand new. I was prescribed beef and pork insulins, both of which I found I was allergic to. Equal tasted better than Sweet 'n Low, so I used it in excess. Tab was still the only diet soda. I knew about JDRF. I knew they were on my team, trying to find a cure. They used to make predictions and I read more than once in their magazine that a cure would be available near the year 2000.

Obviously that deadline has come and gone. By then I was insured on my own, with my employer. It had been hard to manage my diabetes, but I did my best. By 2007 I was on an insulin pump, waiting for Animas to complete their closed circuit system with a CGM. My A1C was at 6.6 – the lowest it had ever been.

I started to pay more attention to JDRF’s emails and publications. They seemed to be promotional partners with all the wrong companies. Insulin makers. Really? If their mission was to cure diabetes, wouldn’t they be at odds philosophically with insulin makers? I wanted to see JDRF partnering with science consortia. With people who could move us closer to a cure. So that I could have kids who, if I had type 1, could be cured.

Then a disaster changed the trajectory of my life. After I’d moved to Arizona, I lost my job at the height of the recession. My COBRA ran out. I didn’t have kids, so I couldn’t get Medicaid. I bankrupted myself trying to survive with type 1. And more than a dozen times I tried to get help from JDRF, the group I thought had my back. And they had nothing to offer me. They gave me a few outdated phone numbers. They’ve recently become aware of the plight of Average Joe Diabetic and that they are vulnerable to loss and even death if they lose insurance unexpectedly, and to that I say it’s about time. I wish they’d opened their eyes a few years sooner.

I appreciate the work that JDRF does, and that’s why I follow the JDCA, a sort of watchdog group that tries to hold JDRF accountable for the money it spends, mostly because ALL of the money it gets is from donations. I have personally raised money for four of the walks, and I was shocked and angered to learned what small fraction of the donations from the walks – money I’d asked for from my family and friends–actually went to finding a cure. I felt like a snake oil salesman. ALL of JDRF’s money comes from donations, so we should be concerned about how it’s spent.

Side note: I’m confused about the money JDRF spends on education. When I’ve transitioned to a new device, I’ve been educated by the manufacturer as to how to use it. My endocrinologist and nutritionist taught me about the disease and about my medications. JDRF has not educated ME. Whatever. But it still doesn’t explain the steady decrease in money that annually has gone to research, or why payroll for this non-profit organization has risen much faster.

Here’s what I DO know. There’s a lot of research out there which for some reason or other doesn’t get JDRF’s money. Those are the groups I watch, because they’re the ones trying like hell to find a cure.

I’ve missed my chance to have kids. I’ve lost everything I earned to stay alive. I want to at least see a cure before I die. We as a community need to make sure that all our families’ and friends’ money goes where we THINK it’s supposed to be going. One of the ways to do this is to include a postcard with donations indicating that the money is to be directed to research for a cure.

And I suggest checking out JDCA (Juvenile Diabetes Care Alliance). It’s an eye opener. http://thejdca.org/