American tax laws require advertising revenue exceeding $1,000 to be reported by non-profit ministries and churches. However, some organizations fail to report unrelated business income because of either not knowing the law or purposefully restructuring themselves to avoid disclosure.
In recent years some religious TV broadcasters have begun to distance themselves from the high pressure beg-a-thon fundraisers of the past and are adopting the new business model of Free Ad Supported Television (often identified by the acronym FAST.)
The Inspirational Network, a non-profit organization operating the INSP cable network, is the leader in this transformation, having generated hundreds of millions of dollars or more in advertising revenue that has been unreported since 2014 on its Form 990s.
The Inspirational Network was the recent subject of a Trinity Foundation investigation into unreported advertising revenue and excessive compensation.
Which raises the question, how do other religious non-profits report advertising?
In 2021, Christianity Today International reported almost $2.9 million in advertising revenue of which $637,199 was unrelated business revenue.
(Screenshot: Christianity Today International 2021 Form 990, page 9.)
Meanwhile, God’s World Publications (the publisher of World Magazine) reported all its advertising revenue ($1,543,326 for fiscal year ending June 30, 2021) as unrelated business income.