Sunday, January 20

House Committtee investigates two Veterans charities over excessive fundraising charges

The President and Founder of the nonprofit group "Help Hospitalized Veterans" was forced to testify before the House Committee on Government Oversight and Reform late last week.

The focus of Thursday's session was Roger Chapin, president of Help Hospitalized Veterans (HHV) of Winchester, Calif., and the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation in Ossining, N.Y. Chapin had declined an invitation to appear voluntarily at a December hearing, forcing the committee to subpoena him.
Philip Rucker covered the story on Friday and shared enough details to guarantee the scandalous story would receive front page treatment in Friday's Washington Post.
At a raucous, three-hour hearing [Thursday], House members questioned California entrepreneur Roger Chapin about his management of two charities. One charity, Help Hospitalized Veterans, spent hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations that were to help wounded soldiers on personal expenses for Chapin, executive director Mike Lynch and [conservative activist] Richard A. Viguerie, to whom the charity has awarded millions of dollars in fundraising-consulting contracts, the hearing found.

The expenses included at least $340,000 in meals, hotels and entertainment; a $135,000 loan to Lynch for a divorce settlement with his former wife; a $17,000 country club membership; three airplane tickets to Hawaii; and a $1 million loan to Viguerie for a start-up initiative at his firm, several members of the committee said.
Rep. Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.), chairman of the committee, said Help Hospitalized Veterans raised more than $168 million from 2004 to 2006. The charity spent a quarter of those donations on the veterans, with the rest going to direct-mail fundraising, salaries and other expenses, Waxman said.
At one point during the hearing:
(Photo Credit: Sarah L. Voisin, The Washington Post)


Roger said...

Having founded USA Cares five years ago, and having two external audits we continue to work at an aveage of 91% of a donation going to military families. We share our 990 and audits as a matter of course. We have raised nearly six million and recieve nearly 115 new cases a week. Our executive director is making a whopping 60,000 a year, puts in about 80 hours a week.

dani_hamilton said...

I'd like to see their actual financial reports and 990. Only having a quarter of the money going to the designated recipients? Whoa... I'd hate to see what type of direct mail they're using if it costs that much to produce.

If this is true, then this group is not the only one in this case. Too many larger charities are taking the 'easy' route in fundraising by hiring solicitors to call or knock on doors on their behalf. This greatly reduces the amount that actually goes to those who need it. Some 'charities' spend 30% or more of their money on these so-called fundraisers! How they can be considered a charity is beyond me...

Anonymous said...

Shame on them!