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Veteran’s charities and fraud -- be careful out there (Update)

Posted By McQ • [July 06, 2012]

I don’t have to be told there are a lot of generous supporters of our military and veterans that read this blog.  And many of you support a variety of military and veteran charities that have popped up since we’ve been at war.

A word to the wise – be careful about to whom  you contribute your hard earned money:

A national charity that vows to help disabled veterans and their families has spent tens of millions on marketing services, all the while doling out massive amounts of candy, hand sanitizer bottles and many other unnecessary items to veteran aid groups, according to a CNN investigation.

The Disabled Veterans National Foundation, based in Washington, D.C., and founded in 2007, received about $55.9 million in donations since it began operations in 2007, according to publicly available IRS 990 forms.

Yet according to the DVNF's tax filings with the IRS, almost none of that money has wound up in the hands of American veterans.

Instead, the charity made significant payments to Quadriga Art LLC, which owns two direct-mail fundraising companies hired by the DVNF to help garner donations, according to publicly available IRS 990 forms.

Those forms show the charity paid Quadriga and its subsidiary, Brickmill Marketing Services, nearly $61 million from 2008 until 2010, which was the last year public records were available.

The independent group CharityWatch gave the DVNF an "F" grade. More than 30 veterans charities were rated by the independent group by the amount they spend on fundraising compared to actual donations, and two-thirds were given either a D or F grade, according to CharityWatch president Daniel Borochoff.

Charity Watch (and others watchdogs) should be one of your first stops when you’re trying to decide whether or not to give.  We all know the unfortunate truth – there are scam artists out there that will (and do) try to take advantage of the desire of honest Americans to help their military and its veterans.

Do your homework.  Be careful.  But don’t let it stop you from supporting the many honest and extraordinarily supportive legitimate groups doing this wonderful work.

UPDATE: Our own LW isn’t particularly impressed by CharityWatch (and I take his opinion seriously on this) but he does recommend two other watchdog groups for the same purpose:

Charity Navigator and Guidestar.

~McQ

Twitter: @McQandO


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