Honorable Veterans Charities?

by Diane

Diane writes:

I went to look up the best veterans charity that would help our military the most. I wanted to write a check & so I checked this website.

I was saddened to see the high percent of D & F ratings. Does anyone investigate these places or shut them down?

If the ratings are so poor than why are they still allowed to operate?


Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this topic. We, too, have been seriously disappointed to see the low ratings received by various veterans charities.

As we explained in our article on veterans charities, there are three major factors which generally explain most of the low ratings:

-- ineptitude at fund raising, i.e., an inability to raise the needed funds,

-- payment of large amounts to outside fund-raising groups or companies in order to raise the needed funds, and

-- payment of excessive salaries and benefits to officers of the organization.

As you can imagine, particularly in today's economic environment, it is harder than ever to raise funds. As a result, many charities outsource their fundraising efforts, paying the third-party fund raisers a percentage of the funds they bring in. Those percentages can be reasonable or not.

Another major factor which can affect the percentage of funds raised is the amount paid to officers of the organization as salaries and benefits. We're sad to say that some charities
are created mainly to line the pockets of their founders.

Part of the problem is that the IRS requirement for organizations to be classified as tax-exempt charitable organizations is that they spend as little as 5% of their contributions on their charitable purposes! As a result, some people have realized that if they raise $100,000, they can keep the IRS off their backs, for the most part, by spending just $5,000 on their "charitable purposes," cover their expenses and overhead (if they have any), and pay themselves a nice fat salary of $85,000 - 90,000 of YOUR money -- money that you thought was going to support the cause you donated to.

That is why we caution our readers to check out any veterans charity (or any other charity) before making a donation.

You can find more information on this topic, including our recommendation for two outstanding charities that help military veterans and their families, on these pages:

Some Veterans Charities Falling Short.

Charity Expose: Veterans Charities Missing the Mark.

To see how a particular charity fared in the ratings, go to Veterans Charities Ratings.

For more detailed explanation of the ratings, see Veterans Charities Ratings Explained.

The veterans charities that received the highest ratings from the AIP were:

Fisher House Foundation: A+
Injured Marine Semper Fi Fund: A+
Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund: A+
National Military Family Assn: A+
Armed Services YMCA of the USA: A-
Operation Homefront (national office): B+

Comments for Honorable Veterans Charities?

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Feb 08, 2016
Non-Money Donations
by: Anonymous

These Donations are for Clothing, Household items.
How effective and helpful is the DAV on this type
of Donation?

Do they sell these items and give the Money to
needed Disabled Vets, or do they actually give
the DV these items based on the need?

Thank You.

I am not aware of any charities that give donated clothing and household items directly to needy recipients. To my knowledge, they employ the use of thrift shops to sell the items, and then the proceeds go to the charity.

If anyone has contrary information, please let me know.

Sep 25, 2015
Foundation for American Veterans
by: Gordon

what about foundation for american veterans 19785 west 12 mile,southfield mi 48076-2584

Gordon, you can find information about FAV here.

Jun 05, 2011
Old Charity List ratings
by: Anonymous

Could you look into updating your list? It is from data in 2007 and there are many groups that are not even rated.

It sure would help us who want our money to really get to the Vets. Thank you.

Anon, we understand your frustration with outdated information. The ratings published at Veterans Charities Ratings were not compiled by us. They were done by the American Institute of Philanthropy, and you can receive their current ratings guide by becoming a member.

You should understand, however, that a current copy of the AIP guide does not guarantee that the information on veterans charities in their 2007 report to Congress is updated. AIP typically rates 500-550 charities for the guide, but they don't focus exclusively on veterans charities. That is why many veterans charities are not rated in their guide. You can read selected articles from past issues of the ratings guide at the AIP website.

As for the veterans charity reviews conducted by Military-Money-Matters.com, we try to respond to reader requests about various veterans charities. However, we do not have a research staff, and it is very time-intensive for me to review the charity's tax returns and write a review.

Since charity reviews is not the primary focus of Military-Money-Matters.com, but is simply a free service we offer our readers as time permits, I cannot allow it to distract us from our primary mission.

To our knowledge, Military-Money-Matters.com is the only website that reviews exclusively military and veterans charities.

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