Charity Begins At . . . ??

Have you, like I have, received a phone call at home soliciting funds for a charity sponsored by law enforcement or fire-fighters?  Their calling is apparently not prohibited by either the Missouri or the National no-call list.  The caller is usually an assertive, friendly man whose appeal is hard to resist, especially because of the authority and trust implied by the professional affiliation.  There is also an undeniable implication to some people, never manifested in words, that to refuse to help the cops might put you in a bad light with them in the event of any kind of run-in.

Well, it turns out that there are a multitude of bad-apple charities out there who are pulling in huge amounts of tax-free money and generally using it to enrich their own executives.  These “charities” are mainly funding themselves and they do it by coining catchy names (some similar to good ones) and preying on the gullible and well-intentioned.  The situation is outrageous, and particularly so in this time of recession and draconian cuts in government social-spending.  I recently joined the top charity watch-dog organization, AIP, and was amazed at what I learned.  Here are some examples of charities graded “F” by the AIP:

  • Feed The Children (winner for “most outrageous charity”)
  • American Association of the Deaf-Blind
  • Children’s Cancer Research Fund
  • Committee for Missing Children
  • American Association of State Troopers
  • United States Deputy Sheriff’s Association
  • Disabled Firefighters Fund

Some charities, otherwise highly-rated,  received a special F grade because they retain rather than distribute large asset reserves.  Examples are:

  • Air Force Aid Society
  • Shriner’s Hospitals for Children (otherwise A+)
  • Seeing Eye

Three examples of charities rated A or A+ are:

  • Guide Dog Foundation for the Blind
  • Breast Cancer Research Foundation
  • Feeding America

The American Institute of Philanthropy is a fiercely-independent organization that audits charities thoroughly and objectively.  Their board of directors does not include any heads of nonprofit associations who receive their pay from the groups they are watching.  Over 95% of their support comes from small, individual donations.  I joined this year and consider it the best $42 I have spent in a long time.  AIP issues a detailed report three times a year.  For anyone else interested, their web site is

About Jim Wheeler

U. S. Naval Academy, BS, Engineering, 1959; Naval line officer and submariner, 1959 -1981, Commander, USN; The George Washington U., MSA, Management Eng.; Aerospace Engineer, 1981-1999; Resident Gadfly, 1999 - present. Political affiliation: Democratic.
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