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Attorney general releases list of 20 worst charities

DOJ report — List highlights nonprofits that spend less than 30 percent of the funds they raise on charitable services or programs they claim to support


Oregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum has issued the DOJ’s “20 Worst Charities” list, an annual review of organizations that spend the vast majority of the donations they receive on professional fundraising and administrative costs rather than charity.

Rosenblum encouraged Oregonians to be generous in support of charities during the holiday season, but to exercise care in their giving decisions.

“The vast majority of charities do excellent work to benefit our communities,” she said. “My office is committed to ensuring the handful of unscrupulous charities out there don’t exploit Oregonians’ generosity and goodwill.”

Well-informed and proactive donors can avoid supporting organizations that spend little on their charitable missions. Rather than responding to an unsolicited telephone call or mailing, take time to identify the causes that matter most to you and which charities are doing important work in those areas.

The DOJ has developed a Wise Giving brochure that offers some basic advice to help Oregonians make the right choices when donating to charity. The organizations on this year’s “Worst 20” list exemplify some “red flags,” including the use of names that are confusingly similar to more reputable charities, and the use of emotionally appealing, but vague, descriptions of the charities’ activities.

There are a number of resources available to assist donors in learning more about particular organizations. For example, Charity Navigator and CharityWatch compile information about charities and rate performance. Each charity that solicits donations in Oregon is required to register with the DOJ and to file annual financial reports that disclose how much money the organization raised and how its funds were spent. Summary information about registered charities is available at the Department’s website. Copies of full financial reports for registered charities can be obtained by calling the Department at 1-971-673-1880 and are also often available at www.Guidestar.org.

Ideally, charitable organizations should spend no more than 35 percent of their funds on fundraising and administration, with the remaining funds spent on charitable program activities. Most charities operate within this recommended range. The “Worst Charities” list focuses on the most egregious exceptions among the more than 18,000 charities registered with the Department.

For the second year in a row, the Law Enforcement Education Program tops the list. The Michigan-based organization spent, on average, a mere 3.1 percent of its more than $2.09 million in annual expenditures on fulfilling its stated mission of providing educational programs for the law enforcement community.

This is the fourth year the DOJ has published this list. A new law was passed earlier this year encouraging Oregonians to avoid charities that are not using contributions appropriately. The DOJ is currently in the process of implementing this new legislation.

20 Worst Charities of 2013

Charities are required to file periodic financial reports with the Oregon DOJ documenting their national fundraising and expenditures and explaining how donations were spent. Under guidelines issued by the Better Business Bureau (BBB), organizations should dedicate at least 65 percent of their funds to charitable programs, with no more than 35 percent toward administrative and fundraising costs. The following charities registered to do business in Oregon failed to meet that standard based on a three-year average of annual expenditures. This is not an exclusive list, but represents the 20 charities that fell farthest from the BBB guidelines. The “purpose” stated in the sections below are excerpts from organizational materials.

Organization: Law Enforcement Education Program

Location: Troy, Mich.

Average Annual Expenditures: $2,097,033

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 3.1 percent

Purpose: To create and support educational programs for the betterment of both the general public and the law enforcement community.

Organization: Shiloh International Ministries

Location: La Verne, Calif.

Average Annual Expenditures: $727,685

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 3.4 percent

Purpose: To provide medical necessities and moral support to needy children and to provide assistance to the homeless and hungry, veterans, children’s hospitals and Christians in need everywhere.

Organization: Firefighters Support Foundation

Location: Greenfield, Mass.

Average Annual Expenditures: $3,590,769

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 6.6 percent

Purpose: To assist firefighters, EMTs, search and rescue, and emergency management personnel in performing their jobs effectively and safely, and to aid underfunded agencies and assist families of fallen firefighters in their greatest time of need and to help prevent fires and fire injuries through public awareness.

Organization: Firefighters Charitable Foundation, Inc.

Location: Farmingdale, New York

Average Annual Expenditures: $7,315,643

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 7.8 percent

Purpose: To provide much needed financial assistance for medical care, sustenance, housing, medical supplies, equipment and educational scholarships to individuals, families and children who have been affected by a fire or disaster.

Organization: The Wishing Well Foundation

Location: Metairie, LA

Average Annual Expenditures: $1,216,524

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 10 percent

Purpose: Fulfilling the fondest wish for any terminally ill child not expected to reach 18 years of age.

Organization: National Vietnam Veterans Foundation

Location: Alexandria, VA

Average Annual Expenditures: $4,547,068

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 11.1 percent

Purpose: To support veterans and veterans’ organizations.

Organization: Committee for Missing Children

Location: Lawrenceville, GA

Average Annual Expenditures: $2,181,534

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 12.4 percent

Purpose: To assist parents of missing children by providing the help they deserve and ensuring that their rights are protected.

Organization: Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Location: Lauderdale Lakes, FL

Average Annual Expenditures: $4,300,059

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 13.9 percent

Purpose: To support women by promoting regular examinations, early detection and aggressive treatment for those suffering from breast cancer.

Organization: Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center, Inc.

Location: Niceville, FL

Average Annual Expenditures: $649,711

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 14.6 percent

Purpose: To assist law enforcement officers, who retired as a result of a disabling injury sustained in the line of duty, adjust to, and cope with, the many difficulties associated with an untimely and unplanned career ending.

Organization: National Association of Police and Lay Charities

Location: Washington, D.C.

Average Annual Expenditures: $424,978

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 14.7 percent

Purpose: To donate teddy bears to police EMS, and fire stations to support traumatized children; donate funds to other 501(c)3 organizations whose purposes align with NAPLC.

Organization: Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund

Location: Arlington, VA

Average Annual Expenditures: $2,585,971

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 15.8 percent

Purpose: To provide assistance to law enforcement officers when it is necessary for them to defend actions taken in the line of duty to enforce the law.

Organization: Dakota Indian Foundation

Location: Chamberlain, SD

Average Annual Expenditures: $1,446,622

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 18 percent

Purpose: To assist in education of Indian people and preservation of Native American culture and language.

Organization: Disabled Police Officers of America, Inc.

Location: Niceville, FL

Average Annual Expenditures: $1,460,046

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 18.3 percent

Purpose: Educational programs for police officers.

Organization: Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth

Location: Everett, WA

Average Annual Expenditures: $1,241,088

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 18.3 percent

Purpose: To alert the public about who is missing, to ask for help in finding the missing, to tell the public where to turn for help, and to provide no-charge case management and search assistance for families whose children have vanished prior to age eighteen.

Organization: United American Patriots, Inc.

Location: Greensboro, NC

Average Annual Expenditures: $1,913,888

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 21.3 percent

Purpose: To provide funds for legal services to military personnel who have been charged with crimes while in combat.

Organization: National Veterans Service Fund

Location: Darien, CT

Average Annual Expenditures: $10,300,968

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 22.5 percent

Purpose: To inform and educate in conjunction with armed service-related illnesses and work to raise public awareness of the contributions of veterans to our society.

Organization: National Cancer Center, Inc.

Location: Plainview, NY

Average Annual Expenditures: $2,027,632

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 23.3 percent

Purpose: Cancer research and public education.

Organization: Autism Spectrum Disorder Foundation, Inc.

Location: Schereville, IN

Average Annual Expenditures: $3,475,878

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 25.5 percent

Purpose: To provide education about autism, early detection and treatment to the public.

Organization: Caring for Our Children Foundation

Location: Everett, WA

Average Annual Expenditures: $609,673

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 25.5 percent

Purpose: To assist other non-profits with administrative help; give small grants from net proceeds to lesser known, under-funded nonprofits aiding victimized and missing children.

Organization: Survivors and Victims Empowered

Location: Lancaster, PA

Average Annual Expenditures: $686,671

Percent Spent On Charitable Cause: 29.6 percent

Purpose: To help prevent the criminal neglect and physical, emotional and sexual abuse of children and to help survivors of these childhood traumas in the recovery process.



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