Wednesday 11 June 2014

Charity Rip-offs

There is very little that nauseates the general public than giving money to charities that are rip-offs.

More than a dozen U.S. charities claimed they sent millions of  dollars’ worth of  medical supplies to Guatemala. They didn’t.  An American charity called Help Hospital Veterans which claims they helped wounded veterans by raising the morale of hospitalized veterans by giving them craft kits, designed to challenge their minds and help pass the time while they recover.  But the summer of 2013, California’s Attorney General’s Office filed civil penalties against that charity and sought seeking more than $4 million for misrepresentation in their form of soliciting.  The state also said that the charity paid excessive salaries to their executives.

According to one of the charity’s filings, the president of Help Hospital Veterans, Michael Lynch got a $389,000 salary and there’s more. In its complaint, California authorities said money donated to the charity also paid for two country clubs near Lynch’s home. The price tag: $80,000.

Donated funds also paid for a condominium near Washington, D.C. for the use of charity executives. And according to the complaint, while Help Hospital Veterans raked in $65 million in two years, according to tax returns, the charity misled the IRS and its donors about where the funds actually go.  $44 million went to fundraising and the charity said it spent $16 million on those craft kits, but the California attorney general’s office questioned the charity’s accounting.                                                                    

The Kids Wish Network is no better. Less than 3 percent of the $127 million the charity has raised actually went to the children it purported to be helping. 

March of Dimes

It is called the March of Dimes because only a dime for every 1 dollar is given to the needy. The rest of the dollars march to those who are overpaid for their services.
President Brian Gallagher receives a $375,000 base salary along with numerous expense benefits.  How much of the donations goes to those that need the help?

The National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help veterans and their families and youth.       

The United Way

CEO Caryl M. Stern receives $1,200,000 per year (100,000 per month) plus all expenses including a Rolls Royce. Less than 5 cents of your donated dollar goes to the cause.

CEO and owner Mark Curran earns $2.3 million a year. Goodwill is a very catchy name for his business considering that he gets much of the goodwill of those that donate their clothes etc.

Here are some very worthy charities you can make your donations to.

Salvation Army  

Commissioner Todd Bassett receives a small salary of only $13,000 per year (plus housing) for managing this $2 billion dollar organization. As much as 96 percent of your donated dollars go to the cause.
The American Legion

The Veterans of Foreign Wars

The National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth.                                                                      

The Disabled America Veterans   

The National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth.
The Military Order of Purple Hearts
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!

The Vietnam Veterans Association
National Commander receives a $0.00 zero salary. Your donations go to help Veterans and their families and youth!                                                                                                       
Make a wish                                                                                                                     
For children’s last wishes. 100% goes to funding trips or special wishes for a dying child.
St. Judes                                                                                                                        
100% goes towards funding and helping children with cancer whose parents have no health insurance and cannot afford to pay.
Ronald McDonald Houses                                                                                    
All monies are raised for the purpose of running the houses for parents who have critical ill children in the hospital. 100% goes to housing and feeding the families.
Now I am going to tell you about some Canadian charities that rip off their donors and the people the charities they claim to help.
Starting from addresses around Toronto and now from his new, three-storey lakefront house in Muskoka, 57-year-old fundraising consultant Craig Copland has helped create an empire of health charities that has taken tens of millions of dollars from Canadians.

Copland is the founder or co-founder of at least six Canadian charities that routinely spend 70 per cent or more of your contributions on telemarketers and other expenses. The Toronto Star found that his charities exaggerate their good deeds, or outright refuse to say what they do with your money.
Here's Copland’s formula: Pick a disease, add a few worthy-sounding programs, obtain federal charity status, hire a telemarketing  and start calling on the phone for donors.
To donors and the federal regulator, the charities appear more philanthropic than they are. That's because they typically record telemarketing  expenses as charity, and take credit for mysterious overseas relief shipments supplied by others. Copland on the other hand says that his charities do good work. He said inherited wealth affords him the time to help them achieve their goals. By his count, he has helped 60 charities and non-profit organizations worldwide.

He also said in one of his written statements to the Toronto Star, “I believe in what they are doing and am honoured to be able to assist in their humanitarian efforts.” In another he said: “I have been offered consulting fees by charities and I consistently turn them down.”

Copland does get some of the charity money. He is a telemarketing  consultant who has claimed Canadian ‘market domination’. In that role, he works closely with a publicly traded telemarketer called Xentel DM. Copland finds Xentel new charity clients. Xentel pays him royalties for charities sent its way. He also served on Xentel’s board of directors until the Star started asking questions about his connection with Zentel.

Expenses eat up 70 per cent of the millions donated to charities created by Craig Copland.  Here are three of the charities he’s involved with. Cancer Recovery Foundation. Childhood Asthma Foundation and Children's Emergency Foundation.

The Cancer Recovery Foundation of Canada was created in 2003 with the promise from Copland and others that it would: open a support hotline for cancer patients; establish a national network that connects cancer victims and link medical providers with patients.

The Star found no evidence the foundation has done these things. The charity did say it would fund kid's camp scholarships and provide cancer survivor kits – two things they say they have done. But with almost 80 per cent of the $5.4 million it raised in a two-year period going to telemarketers  and expenses, according to the charity's federal filings, there is little left over. Star research shows that a good charity spends 60 per cent or more of donations on good works. That can’t be said for Copeland’s enterprises.
The Childhood Asthma Foundation says it is “dedicated to alleviating the suffering of children with asthma,” and states that in the last seven years it has given $1.65 million in research grants across Canada. But, since 2000, the Copland-founded charity has also spent four times that amount, $6.8 million, on telemarketing, salaries and office expenses. Meanwhile, it is giving less and less to research over time.

Copland has also set up charities in the U.S. and brought in Xentel. At the American Foundation for Children with AIDS, board director Father Harold Bradley said Copland handled the negotiations with Xentel on behalf of the charity. Bradley said the telemarketing  costs are high.
Copland said his royalty is less than one per cent of what the charities pay Xentel. He won't disclose the amount – or the number of charities involved – and charity statements are not detailed enough to calculate the dollar figure. Copland said the deals are fair but fair to who?
Here is another Canadian charity scam.

Leukemia Society Lymphoma Society

Internal financial documents obtained by the Star show that much of the money donors give to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society of Canada is spent on fundraising and administrative costs.

An internal breakdown of the Leukemia charity's finances obtained by the Star
shows that donor money is being spent on high rents (including two buildings in Toronto and one in Montreal), on travel arrangements and so-called professional fees that includes a 'design and brand' consulting contract costing the charity more than $18,000 per month.   

In a written response to the Star’s questions, the charity said it does “invaluable work” across the country and regularly benchmarks its performance “to ensure we are using precious donations effectively.” If you believe that, I have a bridge I want to sell you. It crosses the river between Manhattan and Brooklyn.

As much as $30 million dollars was raised by this charity but only 11 percent was actually spent towards research. This charity claims that $6 million dollars is donated each year to Canadian researchers but this was misleading because the Star learned that approximately $4 million of that money was actually donated by Americans and sent to Canada.

The Society’s president, Shelagh Tipping refused to be interviewed by the Star. Why the refusal? Does he fear that he will be caught in lies? For example, the Star learned that the charity is not transparent about its claims that nearly $7 million dollars is spent annually towards education programs and patient support. Employees in the charity call the numbers ‘creative accounting’.  Those two words imply that the books are cooked.

The charity claims that $2.8 million dollars is spent on patient support and yet this work is carried out by only six employees who in total make about $400,000 a year. That comes to approximately $66,000 a year for each.  Now if the charity receives $2.8 million dollars towards patient support, what is done with the remaining $2,400,000?

Further, people connected to the charity over the past few years actually criticized the quality of patient support services it supposedly provided.

Internal documents of the charity show that very little of the money donated to the charity is available for charitable works after fundraising and administration expenses gobble up the donations.

The Canada Revenue Agency recommends that there be a limit of only 35 percent of the donations be applied to fundraising. Do you really believe that this charity is adhering to that limit? Hey. That bridge I told you about is still for sale.

It would appear that this particular charity is acting like a corporation in which its shareholders can make a great deal of money than an organization in which its management’s ultimate goal is to place most of the money donated to it towards its efforts to help others in need.

I rarely donate money to organization claiming to help others because of my suspicions that most of the money is going into the grubby hands of those who claim they are raising the money for others when in fact, they are raising it for themselves.

What I would like to see is the federal government creating a charity department in which all donations would be sent to. The donors could then state what charity they would like their donation to eventually be sent to. The government would send a report to the donors if the charity the donors wish the money to be sent to is a fraud and recommend an alternative similar charity. If the donors don’t wish to donate to the proposed charity, the government would return the cheque to the donor.  A legitimate charity would be one in which the expenses don’t exceed the approved limit. 

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