Frequently Asked Questions
- How can organizations maintain their charitable status when they spend the bulk of their income on overhead and waste?
It’s not illegal to be a poor or bad business manager. Government agencies can shut down frauds, but the IRS and state attorneys general can investigate only a small fraction of the hundreds of thousands of registered nonprofits. And pop-up scams that capitalize on disasters, wars, and other incidents can vanish as quickly as they appeared.
Waste is a more complicated issue, because governments can’t tell charities how to spend money. Only their donors have that power, but few have the time or the specialized knowledge to dig through IRS filings. There are more than 45,000 registered nonprofits in the U.S. that claim to serve U.S. military veterans and their families, and many poorly rated charities have names that are strikingly similar to the best-performing groups. The RAM Foundation is performing critical research and making ratings available at no cost to help donors make more informed choices.
- What’s the difference between Charities for Vets and other charity evaluators?
Our rating program focuses entirely on veterans charities. That allows us to apply strict standards without worrying about whether they should affect universities, houses of worship, arts organizations, educational charities, sports nonprofits or animal welfare groups. And our “pass/fail” grading system has no loopholes: A charity that fails any one of our financial standards is “Not Recommended,” plain and simple. That’s not always the case with larger online charity evaluators. These catch-all programs often allow “good” metrics to offset “bad” ones, providing an average score that can mask poor financial performance.
We also consider some factors that other ratings services ignore, including state-level reporting on illegal or inefficient fundraising practices. And last, we won’t ask you to join anything or charge you for information. We want as many people as possible to benefit from our research, so we will always provide it free of charge. Read more about our methodology.
- What about the fundraising email I got from a group you haven’t graded?
We are just getting started. There are tens of thousands of registered charities in America that raise money for veterans issues. We’ve begun by rating some of the larger and more popular ones.
- I disagree with one of your ratings. What can I do?
If you’re a representative of a charity we rate, contact us with your affiliation and your concerns at [email protected]. Members of the public can send feedback to [email protected].
- How can I help you?
The best thing you can do is become a RAM Warrior with your monthly, tax-deductible donation or a one-time contribution. Donations help us spread our message about veterans charities. You can also share our website with friends and family, and tell your social media followers about our mission.
- How do you determine whether you’re making a meaningful difference?
In the tax returns we’ve analyzed (from 2019, 2020 and 2021), “Not Recommended” charities from our list collected about 50% of the donations. Success means reducing that percentage, while also driving more contributions to organizations on our “Recommended” and “Highly Recommended” lists.
- How many people can you reach with your campaign?
When we spend $100,000 to advertise on social media, more than 3 million people watch one or more of our videos. A large number of them will visit our website and learn which veterans charities are worthy of their support. We also pay Google to list CharitiesForVets.org high up in search results when users look for any charity that we rate.
- How do you determine what a charity’s “priority” programs are?
We use self-reported numbers from a charity’s annual IRS tax return, and look for evidence of specific program areas accounting for 30% or more of its program spending. If a charity devotes less of its budget to a program it claims to offer veterans, we don’t count it as a “priority.”
- I donate to, or work for, a charity that I don’t see listed. Would you please rate it?
In order to make the biggest impact we can, we are focusing our efforts on veterans charities with annual revenues of $2 million or more. To request a rating, please email [email protected]. We can’t offer guarantees, but we take suggestions from the public seriously.
- What is the RAM Veterans Foundation?
Robert Alexander Mercer (RAM) died on November 11, 1944 during the battle to liberate France from the Nazi occupation. He is among the 5,255 U.S. military dead who are buried at the Epinal American Cemetery in France. Most of these brave young men lost their lives across northeastern France and beyond during the winter of 1944–1945. The RAM Veterans Foundation is dedicated to the memory of Robert and others who gave their lives in defense of America and our allies.