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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Dirty Military Charities

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Dirty Military Charities

I know no other way to put it other than that they are dirty...just plain dirty. When you have a charity that either uses 98% of the funds it takes in for "other than charity purposes" or is so inefficient that it isn't doing anything for the greater good in helping military families, veterans or servicemen, then it is just plain dirty. Plain and simple. I just read an eye-opening report on what charities genuinely fork over most of their money to their actual cause, which charities got a big fat F on their report card for not doing so....and which charities, have enough reserves to last a lifetime....and my first question was "why?". Seems I'm not the only one digging in the dirt.

Check out this report and also check out the last few pages that list all the researched military charities and their grades in alphabetical order. Now keep this report in mind when your favorite charity asks for your hard earned money. Know what questions to ask this charity, when in doubt. Sadly, if a charity is hiring an outside agency to do their fundraising, they are probably already behind the eightball and mathematically can't have majority of those funds collected going directly into their charity to support whoever it is they say they are supporting. Finally, can someone please explain to me why Army Emergency Relief (AER) has over 15 years of reserve money? In comparison, if the Red Cross were doing this, they'd have a few billion in their reserves, which is just unheard of. I don't know. Read the report and form your own opinion.

Does anyone have any charity stories to share? Or experiences?



Blogger Megan said...

I'm having trouble reading the report. It won't come up. Is anyone else having difficulty accessing the website?

August 6, 2008 at 8:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good report. I didn't hear about this one. I typically only donate to charities I contact and NEVER donate to any who call me over the phone. I always wondered about that. Now I know. Interesting point that if they hire someone, then how can enough money be left over for the charity?

August 7, 2008 at 8:44 AM  
Anonymous Jen said...

I run the Brave Spirits Foundation that donates money to military, fire and police charities. I spend a considerable amount of time researching the charities before we make a donation. I then call the charities to ask how they will use the funds or whether I can restrict the use of the funds. Unfortunately, there are some bad actors out there and they make it more difficult for the really top notch charities.

The American Institute of Philanthropy is a tough watchdog and lists the best of the best. Guidestar and Charity Navigator also allow for quality research and due diligence. While expense ratios are a quick way to evaluate a charity, I also review tax returns. All charities are required to provide tax returns to anyone who requests them.

Thank you for posting this and raising awareness.


August 7, 2008 at 4:20 PM  
Anonymous Julie said...

Last year when we got married, instead of giving all of our guests favors (that they'd likely throw away anyway!), my husband & I decided to donate a lump sum to Fisher House in the name of all of our wedding guests. I made tent cards for each table that explained what we did and also took time during the reception to talk about Fisher House.

I actually reviewed to assist us in narrowing down which charity to select. My husband is in the Army National Guard, so we wanted to choose a reputable military charity. I received a nice letter of thanks and also their newsletter/magazine. It's an impressive organization!

August 8, 2008 at 3:49 PM  
Blogger Andrew Cohen said...

I attempted to submit this comment last week and am unsure if it actually went since I did not see it posted on your blog comments.– so I am resubmitting because you asked a very important question.
A good question on AER and as AER’s Treasurer; I commend you for asking the hard questions to which you also deserve candid answers.
The mission of AER since its founding in 1942 is to collect and hold funds to relieve distress of Soldiers and their Families. A key responsibility of this mission is to ensure we maintain the requisite financial stability of this critical resource today and into the future. This is done by ensuring funds currently not being used for assistance is continually invested to preserve the corpus of the fund and earn a fair rate of return. This investment capital that some incorrectly characterize as “15 years of reserve money” produces a source of funds to supplement our assistance programs to the extent those expenses exceed donations received. In 2007 and with about $12.5 million dollars in donations, AER provided over $73 million in total assistance. Included in our 2007 assistance total is $23 million in scholarships, grants, and other program expenses along with having an additional $7 million in no-interest loans outstanding. What this really means is that with the additional resources provided by our investment capital, we provided Soldiers and their Families about $2.34 in assistance for every $1.00 in donations received – all while preserving the corpus of the fund for future Soldiers and their Families.
We believe Mr. Borochoff and his American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) does not fully understand these details about AER’s mission and operations and as such incorrectly faulted AER for having available assets in excess of three years. The AIP further explains on its web-state that if an individual agrees with an organization’s assessment as to why assets in excess of three years are required for financial stability they should ignore the AIP’s subjective, but albeit automatic downgrade of AER from an A+ to an F.
I invite you as an Army spouse and your readers to visit our web-site to review our Annual Report and programs.

Andrew H. Cohen

August 11, 2008 at 9:49 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...


I didn't think I would get such a good answer to my question! You certainly show that there is more to the rational than first meets the eye. Readers, please take the time to read what AER has to say about their reserve fund.

August 12, 2008 at 7:53 AM  

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