In Cornelius, a nonprofit set up to help people in debt paid its chief executive more than $5 million - nearly everything it had.
In Anson County, a charity that worked to keep troubled children in school paid its leader about $300,000 a year, roughly twice as much as the county superintendent of schools.
In Spartanburg, a nonprofit religious broadcaster paid its president and her husband nearly $800,000 - a third of the organization's budget.
On paper, federal law prohibits charities from awarding excessive compensation to their leaders.
But in practice, loopholes and understaffed regulators allow nonprofits to pay almost any salary, an Observer investigation found.
"The (IRS) criteria for excessive compensation are so loose that they're virtually worthless...," says Pablo Eisenberg, a senior fellow at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute. "The sky's the limit."
Read the rest of this Charlotte Observer article, by Ames Alexander, and view a slide show here.
Baptist Foundation of Arizona was the largest nonprofit fraud in U.S. history: