How can groups that collect money from the public maintain their charity status when they spend the bulk of that money on overhead and waste?
There are two issues: Fraud and waste. States and the federal government can shut down frauds. However, there are hundreds of thousands of registered nonprofits. The government can only investigate a small percentage of them. Additionally, scams pop up all the time to take advantage of disasters, wars, and other incidents before disappearing as quickly as they appeared. Waste is a bigger issue–and a tough one. The government cannot tell charities how to spend money. It is up to donors to decide who is worthy of their gifts. With many thousands of charities in existence, only the more sophisticated donors or those willing to take time to understand tax returns will be the ones who can avoid funding groups guilty of donor fraud and waste. The RAM Foundation has done the research and is making our veteran group ratings available without cost to help donors make proper choices.
What’s the difference between Charities for Vets and other charity evaluators? While existing rating agencies seek to give direction to donors, it is obvious that hundreds of millions of dollars continue to be donated to poorly rated groups. At the RAM CharitiesForVets.com site, we employ a strict and uncompromising PASS/FAIL grading system for each important financial factor. If a charity fails any one of those financial standards, they are “Not Recommended.” Conversely, most other agencies employ some version of a grading system that offsets or averages good and bad metrics. This often masks poor financial performance. RAM also considers some factors that other groups ignore, including state reporting on illegal fundraising practices. In addition, all of the RAM research is provided without charge. We use our resources to highly publicize the research availability so that more potential donors are aware of the free service before contributing. Read more about our methodology here.
I don’t see a group listed. Where are they? There are hundreds of charities dealing with veterans and military issues. We started by rating some of the larger and more popular charities.
I disagree with a rating. What can I do? If you’re a representative of a charity we rate, contact us with your affiliation and address at [email protected]. If you’re not, you can send general feedback to: [email protected].
How can I help you? The best thing you can do is become a RAM Warrior with a monthly, tax-deductible donation. Donations help us spread our message about veterans charities. You can also share our website with friends and family and encourage them to visit and share our website. Donate to support our mission here.
How will we know if the RAM Foundation is successful? The 2019-21 tax returns that we have analyzed show 50% of donations going to Not Recommended charities. Success will be visible by reducing that percentage while increasing the current 50% donated to Recommended and Highly Recommended organizations.
How many people can you reach with your message and ratings? On social media $100,000 worth of promotion will result in more than three million people viewing one or more of our videos. Many will go to our website where they will learn about failed promises and specific “Recommended” or “Highly Recommended” veteran charities worthy of their support. We will also be promoting our site using Google Keywords, so when someone searches for a charity in our database, our rating and site will come up high in the search results.
How do you determine a charity’s top program(s)? We identify the top program(s) that a charity offers by examining its IRS 990 form. If we discover that the organization spends at least 30% of its total budget on a specific program, we feature it in our programs index. If a charity does not allocate at least 30% of its budget towards a program it claims to offer veterans, we don’t count it as a “top program”.
I donate to or work for a charity that I don’t see listed. How do I request to have this charity rated? While there are hundreds of military charities in existence, we do our best to rate as many as possible. We look at the revenue and reach of each veteran charity ahead of rating them, and rate charities with revenue of $2,000,000 or more. To request a rating, please email [email protected]. We can’t guarantee that it will be rated, but we will certainly consider it.