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Thread: Vet Charity Scams

  1. #1
    Council Member
    Join Date
    Oct 2005

    Default Vet Charity Scams

    Just received another snail mail solicitation for a charity for veterans that set off some internal alarms that is a potential scam, or almost as bad one of those charities where less than half of your donation goes to the intended cause. I don't feel a necessity to donate to these unknown charities, since I frequently give to the Special Operations Warrior Foundation and the Fisher House Foundation, both of which are top rated charities.

    You can see others at this link.

    The solicitation that set off the internal alarm was request for a donation for "Emergency Easter Meals Project" for our severly wounded troops, by Salute Heroes Project. I could find very little online about this particular charity, but what I could find is concerning (far beyond this one particular charity). Lots of folks working for these charities had very good intentions, but when they found out what was happening they left. The troops in most cases were getting some support, but those running the charity were getting rich off the money intended to help the troops.

    Chartible Taking

    Retired Gen. Tommy Franks, leader of the 2003 U.S. invasion of Iraq, apparently did even better: Several of Chapin's former employees said Franks received a one-time payment of $100,000. That was primarily for the use of his name in fundraising and his appearance at a Nov. 9, 2004, Washington, D.C., event to promote the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation, now based in Ossining, N.Y. At the time, it was the newest in the Chapin panoply of military-themed nonprofits and brand names, led by his flagship California organization, Help Hospitalized Veterans, started in 1971.
    Indeed, the Web domain, currently the Coalition's home page, is registered to an individual associated with a Washington fundraising organization. Much of the solicitation has been handled by firms associated with the well-known direct-mail specialist Richard Viguerie. Chapin himself owns the two federal trademarks for Coalition to Salute America's Heroes.

    AIP is doubtful that HHV's new president, Michael Lynch, will dedicate more of the charity's resources to helping veterans rather than to lining the pockets of for-profit fundraising companies. Lynch had significant input into HHV's past operations during his twenty years at the charity, including working under Chapin as the charity's executive director. He filed fundraising reports with the New York Attorney General's office in 2010 indicating that inefficient fundraising contracts that were in place during 2005 and 2008 will continue through 2012 and 2011, respectively.

    While Chapin's retirement as president of HHV was marked by a generous $1.9 million payout, Chapin has by no means retired from the charity business. Roger Chapin continues as president of Coalition to Salute America's Heroes (CSAH), an AIP F rated charity Chapin founded in 2004 that is related to HHV through large financial transactions between the two groups and until recently, a shared president. Although Chapin is the "volunteer president" of CSAH, the 2007 Congressional investigation revealed that Chapin received reimbursements from this charity amounting to $273,500 between 2004 and 2006, alone. Chapin is also president of two other non-profits he recently founded: Help Wounded Heroes, founded in 2006; and Make America Safe Foundation, founded in 2008.

    Disappointing news on the Army Emergency Relief Fund, I'm done donating to this one until they clean up the mismanagement.

    In our hunt for highly rated veteran or military charities we ran across three emergency relief groups that are holding massive asset reserves. They are the official armed forces charities for the U.S. Army, Air Force, Navy and Marines, which provide financial, educational and other assistance to current and past members of the armed services and their families. These three charities have combined fund balances of $638 million yet spent only $59 million, according to their most recently available financial reports. Army Emergency Relief (AER) tops AIP's list of large asset reserve charities in relation to expenses with 17.6 years of available asset reserves and a fund balance of $307 million as of 2005. Air Force Aid Society (AFAS) has 10.1 years of available asset reserves and as of 2005 holds fund balances of $172 million. Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society (NCRS) has fund balances of $158 million as of 2005. Its years of available assets is lower at 4.8, barely low enough to keep them from earning an automatic F grade for charities having over 5 years worth of available reserves.
    I asked Col. George Mason, Treasurer of AER, why it was not spending more of its available asset reserves to assist needy veterans. He said, "the key reason and probably the only reason" is "the unknown contingencies faced on a daily basis." He said that the largest outflow of funds from AER was 15% during a 1.5-year period in the early 90's as a result of Operation Desert Storm and Desert Shield. I replied that based on AER's reasoning for holding its high level of asset reserves, the American Red Cross could claim that it needed to hold a few billion dollars in reserve in the event of another Katrina scale hurricane. Many other charities could also claim that they need to hold large reserves for unknown contingencies. The problem with this reasoning is that there are not enough charitable dollars to go around for groups to stockpile massive reserves for events that may never happen.
    Reward excellence, deny those that are self-serving or incompetent.

  2. #2
    Council Member J Wolfsberger's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007

    Default Good advice.

    Another source of information to help decide which charities are legitimate is the Better Business Bureau (in the U.S. and Canada).
    John Wolfsberger, Jr.

    An unruffled person with some useful skills.

  3. #3
    Council Member Stan's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006


    The Federal Trade Commission is hot on their tails too.

    Recognize that the words “veterans” or “military families” in an organization’s name don’t necessarily mean that veterans or the families of active-duty personnel will benefit from the money you are donating. The U.S. Department of Defense doesn’t endorse any charity, but recommends this source of information about military relief societies.
    If you want to blend in, take the bus

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