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Uncharitable Charities

It is rare indeed when almost all our Readers Who Comment agree. We have that today. Our RWC are appalled by an article that says eight veterans charities gave less than a third of the money raised to the causes they champion.

Philip Rucker tells us that the American Institute of Philanthropy suggests that 20 of the 29 military charities studied were managing their resources poorly, paying high overhead costs and direct-mail fundraising fees. There are some big names on the failed list, including the Military Order of the Purple Heart Service Foundation, the AMVETS National Service Foundation and the Freedom Alliance. Better Business Bureau has 20 standards for reviewing charities, including that a charity's fundraising and overhead costs not exceed 35 percent of total contributions.

In addition to being outraged, our RWC also offer solutions, including federal legislation capping overhead for charities and public ratings of charities.

Several RWC complained that they could not find the list of the charities and their ratings; the list is on the site, but washingtonpost.com's automated publishing system buried the link at the bottom of the article page and broke the list itself into three pages. We still have a ways to go when it comes to internet news display.

We'll start with AppeaseThis, who filed the first comment and said, "This is disgusting (except for the A's and A minus charities, bless their hearts). I think this is finally something us common Repubs and Dems can agree upon: those who shaft our Vets and enrich themselves in the process should thrown in jail, driven out of town, or worse..."

And stikyfingas said, "Well, this is the last time I donate money to AMVETS or purple heart,"

as901 suggessted that "There is a simple fix, that is, if Congress would act. A 20 percent cap on overhead should be the law of the land. Going over that amount should bring fraud charges."

And OldProgessivefromWisconsin wrote, "Face it, many charities believe 'charity starts at home'. They over pay themselves and spend excessively on marketing. Any organization that spends more than 20% on overhead should be shunned. Executives that make more than a $100,000 per year in salaries and perks should be fired..."

DwightCollinsDuarte said, "this mess should be cleared up in favor of the vet.
everone should stop exploiting anyone."

rj2z suggested that "There should be an annual, or semi-annual, public rating for all charities. Let the sunshine in."

And msackett said, "Simple: All written and spoken solicitations must begin and end with 'XX% of your donation will benefit veterans'."

bawrytr wrote, "...The fact that these fraudsters and thieves are subsidized by our tax system ought to be a crime... it is even more shameful that the fact that the Washington Post did not list the charities and the names of the people running them. This is wrong because it unfairly tars many of the better organizations.."

Last word goes to Elephant-in-the-Hood, who said, "WOW! As I read these posts it struck me that we really CAN all get along. Blue or Red, it seems that we all agree that the disgusting practice of bilking charities is of the most reprehensible of acts..."

All comments on the charities article are here.

By Doug Feaver  |  December 13, 2007; 9:00 AM ET
 
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Comments

List how much the charity has in the bank and what bank holds the fortunes. Red Cross has millions in the bank and it may be billions..salvation army also has millions and so does cancer and many others list them all and let the sun shine in...how much and where is it invested...

Posted by: whiteywar | December 17, 2007 12:40 PM | Report abuse

I am appalled to see VFW, DAV and AMVETS even lumped together with some of these upstart "Charities." On a personal level, I've seen the good that these three groups do. They helped push my VA claim through, and they continue to do great work for our Vets. I don't see how Borochoff can give them a C-, D, and F! It just doesn't add up -- especially if you look at their tax forms. Where did HIS numbers come from???

Some of these charities are bilking unsuspecting people out of their money and I'm happy to see Congress address it. But Borochoff needs to be a little more transparent about his processes and think about the harm he is doing to the reputable groups that he has lumped into these "report cards."

Besides, who polices the police? does anyone realize that AIP would fail by their own standards?? Borochoff, personally, takes 28% of his non-profit's total revenue. So let's not throw stones just yet...

Posted by: Ryan | December 17, 2007 10:34 AM | Report abuse

I am , unfortunately, not at all surprised at this article. The tone set by the federal administration for the last 7 years is reprehensible for its irresponsible ignorance of the needs people who were sent to fulfill that administration's policies. Not one person in this administration of Bush/Cheney is willing to say or do ANYTHING to correct these abuses, and abuses they are that dishonor our veterans, many of whom eschew politics only to serve the Nation they love. The People of the United States shall remember President Bush , his GOP in the Congress, and his habitually blatant refusal to promote the health and happiness of our veterans who have given everything to serve. Why are they reticent to raise the tax revenue to provide the vital medical , and rehabilitation help for our men and women who return to us...sometimes wounded for the rest of their lives ? No, I am not, unfortunately, surprised at this article. The tone established in this Country by the federal government led by the Bush/Cheney administration is one of war profiteering, and the refusal to administer the programs set up to heal, and restore veterans . So it goes for those 'Nonprofit' outfits as well...We will not forget Bush for this.
Merry Christmas.

Posted by: Daniel Wargo | December 16, 2007 3:23 PM | Report abuse

The unfortunate thing is that many, like me, no longer wish to contribute to any charity. WAMU had a woman leading fundraising who paid herself $250,000/year and spent more raising the money than the money that came in before Diane Rehm and a few others managed to get her kicked out and reclaim the station. United Way is another well known case. I once made the mistake of donating money to the Salvation Army - they have spent more on stamps mailing me repeatedly than I gave them.

A "Charity Industry" has grown up, employing thousands of overpaid money grabbers who fly from conference to conference, and spend 90% of what they raise on their own organizations. I try to limit my donations to local charities such as the local fire station where I can actually see some results.

Posted by: Alank287 | December 16, 2007 2:12 PM | Report abuse

Purple Heart may not be the best charity, but tell me another one which will come to your home and pick up donations. All of these organizations then sell the items en mass to thrift shops, etc. I'd love to be able to donate directly to people who are vets or are really in need, but that's nearly impossible. There are practically no other organizations which provide this service and the one or two who do aren't really crazy about doing it. They'll ask you to make a complete inventory list for them, tell you that you have to be at home and help them move the furniture, boxes etc. Even though the Vets don't reap the majority of the profit, they get something for items that probably would end up in the trash otherwise. My father-in law was a Vet who told me that most of Purple Hearts profits don't go to the Vets. He donated to the DVA. Hope they're not on the list.

Posted by: annemarieko | December 13, 2007 2:54 PM | Report abuse

Ollie North was involved in one of these scams some time ago. He teamed up with a "charity" raising funds to donate bullet-proof vests to police departments. Over half the money went into the pockets of the organizers. The vests were over-priced, and literally dumped on the doorsteps of police dep'ts, even if they didn't need them.

What a hero!

Posted by: Garak | December 13, 2007 1:51 PM | Report abuse

Not only was the list "buried," but I can't find the actual report with its methodology and explanations of grades. And it's funny that Schliemerlaw mentions Disable American Vets -- that's the group I've been looking for, and the fact that AIP does not post anything about them on its site's A-Z listing make me suspicious about AIP itself. That seems unfair to me (give the group a D but offer no explanation.) Easy headlines, lazy reporting on the part of both the Post and AIP.

Posted by: gringo | December 13, 2007 1:28 PM | Report abuse

Mark B writes:

"Why didn't you list the charities that are listed as getting an "A or -A"??"

They did Mark! Click on the word "List" to view the list of the largest charities.

Posted by: Informit | December 13, 2007 1:23 PM | Report abuse

The Secretary of State of the State of Washington maintains a list all charities soliciting funds in the state in an online accessible database. In this database are data concerning how much of donations actually go to each charity's program. Also listed are professional fund raisers, and the amount of the funds they collect that is turned over to each charity. Sadly many charities actually deliver less than 5% of your donation to program use, wasting 95% on overhead and fundraising. If I ran my business with such inefficiency I'd be out of business in a short time. The charities my wife and I donate to in general use at least 80% of our donation in their programs. Check your state's online resources to see if this service is available to you and use it to assist you in deciding whether to donate or not.

Posted by: Mike C. | December 13, 2007 12:53 PM | Report abuse

Still can't get the rating on Disabled American Veterans. Been giving to them for years, and they are discussed, but not rated.

Posted by: Schleimerlaw | December 13, 2007 12:46 PM | Report abuse

No surprise here. It's the old "I've got mine---you get yours" twist.

We're in back of our soldiers alright---------waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay back!

Posted by: Debbs | December 13, 2007 11:27 AM | Report abuse

Why didn't you list the charities that are listed as getting an "A or -A"??

Posted by: Mark B | December 13, 2007 10:58 AM | Report abuse

That we so rarely agree is owed not to the facts but our antagonistic view of their portent. The spurious charge that liberals hate vets, America, freedom, victory is simply to deny what liberals truly hate that conservatives seek.

Posted by: jhbyer | December 13, 2007 10:55 AM | Report abuse

The comments to this entry are closed.

 
 
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