Veterans of America's "Recycling" Program, Debunked!
Vietnam Veterans of America (VVA)
reports reasonable overhead and program spending in its annual financial
documents, but a closer analysis by CharityWatch reveals a different
picture of how efficiently this charity operates.
Vietnam Veterans of America reported
spending 66% of its expenses on programs in fiscal 2011. CharityWatch's
analysis of VVA's tax form and audited financial statements for
that year shows the charity spent only 18% of its expenses on programs.
Why the difference?
In short, in its audit VVA refers to
the costs associated with collecting "discarded household items
and automobiles from the community" to be a "Recycling Program."
It subtracts these costs from the revenue it generates from selling
these donated items to "contracted private companies." Therefore,
these costs do not show up in VVA's reported fundraising and total
expenses. A donor who takes the charity's reported operating expenses
at face value would think VVA is operating more efficiently, and
spending a higher portion of its budget on programs than it actually
CharityWatch disagrees with VVA's reporting.
The expenses a charity incurs to raise donations, whether the donations
are in the form of cash or non-cash items like donated household
goods, are fundraising expenses and should be reported as such.
In fiscal 2011, VVA reported spending $20.1 million on "solicitation
costs for generating the items collected and sales costs for selling
the items," according to its audit of the same year. For this reason,
CharityWatch adds this $20.1 million to the charity's reported fundraising
expenses so that all of its solicitation costs are reflected in
Unlike many other sources of charity
information online today, CharityWatch does not simply repeat information
that charities report about themselves. Our in-depth
analysis of charities is what has set us apart for more than
twenty years as the smart source for independent charity ratings
and other information. For more articles on this or other charities
analyzed by CharityWatch, please see our Articles
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