Friday, January 9, 2015

Part II: Don't Believe Everything You Read on Social Media

As we've previously noted on this blog, there are messages and images circulating on social media claiming facts about various charity's finances that simply aren't true. Here's the latest one we've come across (it claims that the data is from Snopes, but it is not):



Before you  rush to believe anything good or bad about the charities included in the graphic, let's see what one of our analysts, Kevin Doyle, found in comparing the above to our evaluations.
  • We can't offer an evaluation of the Salvation Army because it is recognized as a church by the IRS and thus exempt from filing the Form 990. Without that document, we (and anyone else) lack the necessary data to report on its compensation practices or its spending on programs.
  • We rate 56 Ronald McDonald House chapters. Their ratings range from 2-star to 4-stars and they exhibit a range in program spending and CEO pay.
  • We do not evaluate Lions Club International as it is a 501(c)(4) and we focus our analysis on 501(c)(3) public charitiesLions Clubs International Foundation spent 83.7% of its budget in FYE 2013 on its programs/ services. The organization's senior executive administrator received $226,049 in compensation from its affiliates.  
  • Since it is a 501(c)(19), we do not rate Veterans of Foreign Wars. (If you are interested in charities that Support the Troops, then see our list of such charities in the Hot Topics section of our site.)
  • For its FYE 2013, ALSAC - St. Jude Children's Research Hospital devoted 69.3% of its budget towards its programs/ services (well below the figure listed in the graphic).
  • Regarding World Vision, we have a significantly higher CEO compensation ($405,975 for FYE 2012) than the graphic.  Our program expense number is similar but not quite the same, at 84.7%.
  • We evaluate more than 50 chapters of Make-A-Wish and they've received a range of ratings, report a range of CEO salaries and a range of spending on programs.
  • Caryl Stern, President & CEO, of the U.S. Fund for UNICEF received a compensation of $476,001 during the charity's FYE 2013 and the charity spent 91.1% of its budget that year on programs/ services.
  • During the March of Dimes' FYE 2012, it spent 66% of its budget on the programs and services it exists to provide and its CEO's compensation was more than half a million dollars.
  • We currently rate more than 360 chapters of the United Way. However, the President & CEO of the national office of the United Way received a compensation of more than $1.2 million during the charity's FYE 2012.
  • The American Red Cross spent 90.4% of its budget on programs in its FYE 2013, much more than the graphic indicates. And the compensation for the CEO of the American Red Cross is considerably lower, coming in at $564,864 in FYE 2013, than the graphic. (Check our our CEO Compensation study for tips on determining if that is a reasonable level of pay for a CEO of a $3.4 billion charity.)
  • There are many chapters of Goodwill and we rate more than a dozen of them. We do not rate them all, as many do not fit our criteria for evaluation
So, rather than pick charities based on something you've found in your social media stream, consider becoming a more proactive giver and take the time to find great charities doing the charitable work that is most important to you. Our advanced search tool will help you search our 8,000+ charity ratings to find the charity that best fits your philanthropic goals.


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