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Bogus charities

I was shocked and disappointed yesterday to find out that a charity that I have been giving to for several years appears to be a total scam. It’s an association that supposedly helps US military disabled veterans and is based out of Ohio. As my dad pointed out to me, the name of this association is quite similar to the “Department of Veteran’s Affairs (DVA)” (the official US government entity for handling military veterans), which probably helps in terms of confusing donors. I won’t name the organization here on the blog because they’d probably sue me for some bogus reason. :-\

Here’s what happened: I was trolling the web yesterday and happened to find the past few years of IRS form 990s filed for this organization (“Return of Organization Exempt from Income Tax” — it provides details of the organization’s income and expenditures for a given year). For the past three years, this organization has collected fairly large sums of money in contributions (e.g., approximately $5M in 2005).

But here’s the kicker: 70% of those contributions has gone to overhead. Seventy percent!! The majority of which was reported to pay for “fundraising costs.” That leaves slightly less than 30% to actually help disabled veterans.

But wait — there’s more. That 30% didn’t actually go to any disabled veterans; they apparently gave a few seminars here and there to tell disabled veterans how to get benefits. Hence, that 30% assumedly paid for renting building facilities, folding chairs, and donuts.

This 70/30 ratio was the same in 2005, 2004, and 2002. I didn’t have the heart to look back any further than that.

Maybe I’m wrong, maybe it just costs that much to run a decent fundraising campaign. But seventy percent seems like a helluva lot to me. My dad tells me that he gives to charities that have overheads as low as six percent. Yes folks, that’s more than ten times less overhead than this organization.

I will definitely not be giving any more money to this organization. The moral of the story here is that you need to do your homework when deciding which charities to give to. Don’t take my word for it — I’m just some random guy with a blog. Do your homework on your favorite charities and find out where they’re actually spending their money.

#$%#$%@#$!!!!!

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Comments (2)

Pete:

I hate that it’s even necessary, but…

http://www.charitywatch.org/

They even have a “Veterans and Military” category.

Granted, who watches the watchers, ad infinitum… but you gotta start somewhere.

I just starteding using GuideStar. You can see the IRS 990’s for free.

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