Vietnam Veterans Of America

by Allan Ayo
(Oakwood,Texas. USA)

Do you have a rating for Vietnam Veterans of America (the national organization)?

It's not shown on your page of charitable 501 C3
or 501 C19 organizations.



Thank you for your question about Vietnam Veterans of America.

Our research indicates that VVA was incorporated in New York in 1978. Its stated purpose, as reported to the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBB): "to improve the condition of the Vietnam veteran and promote social welfare improvements in the United States, study proposed legislation which may affect the welfare of the Vietnam veteran, provide assistance to groups interested in the development of programs to meet the economic and social needs of veterans and assist disabled and needy war veterans including, but not limited to, the Vietnam veteran, and their dependents and the widows and orphans of deceased veterans."

Apparently, the statement of purpose has been updated on the VVA website and is slightly re-worded, but is too lengthy to repeat here. If you'd like to read it, you'll find it at

We found an interesting contradiction between the stated purpose (above, and on the web site), which specifies "to assist disabled and needy military veterans including, but not limited to, Vietnam-era veterans" and this statement on their "who we are" page: "Vietnam Veterans of America is the only national Vietnam veterans organization . . . exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families."

Further down the "who we are" page, under "special programs" it lists: "support the next generation of America's war veterans."

So it appears to us that VVA has decided to expand its programs to include the current generation of veterans, but hasn't changed its claim to be the only national Vietnam veterans organization "exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans."

The web site for Vietnam Veterans of America has a page titled "VVA Strategic Documents," where there is a link to its 2009 Annual Report. If you work your way through the annual report, you'll find a statement of revenues and expenses near the end.

VVA has done some clever accounting, which is certified by its auditing firm to be in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). But we agree with the BBB that the information appears to be presented in such a way as to deliberately disguise a large portion of fundraising expenses.


Here's what happens: Vietnam Veterans of America operates what it calls a "Recycling Program," in which it collects discarded household items that are then re-sold (in bulk) to contracted private companies. The recycling program costs shown in the financial statements are VVA's "solicitation costs for generating the items collected" (in other words, its cost to raise the funds generated by the program, or what most of us would call "fundraising expenses"). So, in its financial statements, VVA subtracts those fundraising costs first and lists "net" revenue generated by the recycling program. This is explained in the "notes to financial statements" on p. 19 of the Annual Report.

That may not seem very significant until you see the numbers, and the difference it makes.

VVA's audited financial statement for the year ended February 28, 2009 (the most recent available on its web site), shows:

Recycling Program Revenue: $18,258,434
Less Recycling Program Cost: $13,299,038
Net Recycling Program Revenue: $4,959,396

That net number is what is used to reflect revenue generated by the recycling program, so VVA lists total revenues and support of $6,970,385.

Then, when it lists expenses, it shows $5,129,994 in program services expenses, and only $726,511 under "fund-raising." Those numbers look much more respectable to potential donors, because they "hide" the $13.3 million dollars (!) spent to "raise the funds" realized by the recycling program.

When the BBB re-calculated the numbers, the picture looks very different. Here's what BBB shows:

Total income: $19,330,779

Program expenses: $5,129,994
Fundraising expenses: $14,430,184
Administrative expenses: $1,207,652
Total expenses: $20,767,830
Net loss for the year: ($1,437,051)

Thus, the BBB reports as of March 2010 that Vietnam Veterans of America spent just 25% of revenue on veterans programs, and a whopping 69% on fundraising expenses, with the remaining 6% going to administrative expenses.

The BBB sets forth 20 standards for charity accountability. According to its March 2010 report, Vietnam Veterans of America does not meet 11 of those standards. It did meet 7 of the standards, and failed to produce the information required to determine compliance with the remaining 2 standards. You can get more details by clicking the link above and reading the BBB report.

Vietnam Veterans of America was not among the organizations included in the American Institute of Philanthropy's report to Congress in 2007.


Comments for Vietnam Veterans Of America

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Sep 15, 2015
by: Anonymous

I've no problem with the VVA using the net from the recycling program as revenue. Are the people employed to recycle your discards really performing "fund raising" duties? Seems a bit of a stretch. Either way the numbers should show a net loss.

My take from the numbers is that either the VVA needs to step up its recycling program to generate more revenue or (more likely) it needs to cut expenses not related to the recycling program.

May 27, 2015
Just Look at Their Numbers!
by: Anonymous

They generated roughly $19,000 in revenue but SPENT $14,000 on fundraising? That's ridiculous!

Go to and check out some of the ratios of fundraising expenses on the 5-star charities. It's a small percentage.

Well-run charities give the MAJORITY of what they generate to programs.

May 01, 2015
Feeling Better About Donating
by: Matt C.

Thanks for this insightful article and post. I keep getting the postcards to donate used items to this organization so I figured I'd do a quick Google search to see if they are legit and I came across this post. Clearly they are not a fly by night organization.

I read the thread with the comments related to fundraising costs and I think most of the detractors miss the point. Their business model is different from most charities. The 70% fundraising costs would be high if they did the typical email and phone campaigns to raise cash, but this is a used clothing recycling operation with the associated infrastructure to keep that running.

Let's put it another way, if we throw our hands up and say we're not donating to this organization, then what are you going to do with all that stuff. Give it to Goodwill? Salvation Army?

My guess is that you'd find near the same infrastructure costs. I'd be curious to see a comparison with their true "competitors", but in the meantime the real question is not how much it costs to run that business, but what do they do with the cash they generate.

Every indication I see is that they faithfully dole out the cash to member organizations who do direct work with vets. Maybe if I was writing a check I might feel differently, but I gotta get this stuff out of my house. Might as well have it benefit vets in some way.

And a note on the accounting. Putting myself in the charity's shoes, I can see them thinking if we put this as a direct fundraising cost, everybody will freak out and we'll get downgraded as a charity because we'll be compared to the ones that just raise cash and are truly inefficient. What are our options here? So,they used perfectly legal accounting methods for this type of situation and now people are freaking out because they characterized those expenses as program expenses or whatever. Tough to win I suppose.

Mar 24, 2015
I'm about to snap.
by: Jyl

I'm getting calls every other day from someone wanting to collect "boxes of blabbity blah blah" to benefit your organization.

Twice I've 869ed the number and tried to call back to ask them not to call me but when I call the number it says it's out of service or something.

Each time they call now they say that they're actually working for Apogee research, a place I can't find online.

Listen. I have a nervous problem, especially when it comes to scum like this, and my phone ringing for nothing. If you know of any way to get me off this list please let me know.

Lives depend on it, I am not kidding. I can not believe it is still legal to ring strangers' home phones. Please, contact me.

Lives may depend on my getting off their list.

Jyl, I'm sorry you're having to deal with this. Please see our page about stopping unwanted charity calls from telemarketing services.

Sep 03, 2014
Where does the money go?
by: Anonymous

Before I found this site, I literally just got off the phone with the organization. While I had donated previously, this time I wanted to speak with a person, as opposed to trying to read through paragraphs and paragraphs. And ultimately not getting the answer I was seeking.

I called the number I found listed and a representative answered, asking do I want to schedule a pick-up. Before answering her and committing to a pick-up I posed my question.

I asked her exactly where and how does the money get distributed to the Veterans and how does it work?

The representative advised me that they do not have their own retail stores but rather they sell to retailers and proceeds are used for the Vets. She also advised, without my asking, that 70 cents on the dollar is used back for Veterans.

I personally do not mind giving back to the men and women who have served this country. And I do understand that even with a non-profit organization there are administrative costs. But I want to make sure that most of it benefits them directly.

At this point I am donating again, I can only hope that in some way this does help somebody. Such a small price on my side to say Thank you.

Apr 30, 2014

There seems to be some confusion about monies made by the VVA thrift stores. There is some overhead with the thrift stores, as previously mentioned--advertisement, trucks, vehicle maint. & fuel, building electricity, utilities, distribution of goods, etc..

Any profits made is sent to VVA National where, after taking out annual budgeted money, it is divided amongst all VVA State Presidents.

The State President then takes out his annual budgeted money and then divides and sends each VVA Chapter a monthly check. The amount varies, as with the amount of sales by the Thrift stores.

No one's pocketing anything. This is evident by the many successes the VVA has had caring for veterans on a local level, and by the passage of many laws that have directly benefitted veterans of all wars.

Mar 25, 2014
Vietnam Veterans of America
by: John

The Vietnam Veterans of America states they are the only Vietnam Veterans Org. around. Simply not true. Look at Veterans of the Vietnam War, Inc. out of Pittston, Pa. They are a national org. that's been around for a long time and has been helping veterans of all wars. They even have over 20 veterans homes they have built.

May 21, 2012
More Transparency is Needed
by: Janet, Editor

Dear Donor,

Thanks for joining our conversation.

You said, "Imagine, however, if they were to save $2 million by dumping the marketing firm but lose $4 million in revenue due to less publicity. Overall, the vets would lose out."

That's exactly how they justify it. But it ignores the fact that the donors feel fleeced because their money wasn't used the way they intended.

I think the difference is that people understand that veterans charities (just like everyone else) will have to pay for power, travel expenses, etc., and even SOME fund-raising expenses. And if the money that is actually spent on fundraising were clearly reported as such, then donors would be better informed.

The problem comes when the IRS permits some fundraising expenses to be categorized as "program expenses" and that means they are included in the percentage of donations that supposedly is going to the cause - in this case, our vets. That is misleading.

Unless a potential donor does his/her homework, as you did, and just relies on television or other advertising they see, they may not realize how much is spent on fundraising.

My problem with it is the inherent deception. If they were up-front about it so that everyone understood that out of every dollar they donate, X cents of it goes to professional fundraising firms, donors could make better decisions about where to send their money.

But for larger charities to collect multiple millions of dollars that people intended to be used to help our veterans, and instead most of it goes to a professional fundraiser -- well, that just seems wrong.

The public donates money trusting that it will go to the cause. I doubt that any donor would mark his/her donation "use this to pay a greedy marketing firm instead of helping a veteran who desperately needs help."

What I would like to see is greater transparency, clarity in allocating and reporting expenses to better reflect what is actually being done with the money, and a requirement that a minimum of 50% (my personal minimum is 80% or more) of donations goes to the cause.

As for holding our government accountable - I'm afraid that's a bigger job than I could do alone! But I agree it desperately needs to be done, starting with upholding our Constitution, which is the supreme law of the land.

May 21, 2012
General Comments
by: A donor

I just scheduled an appointment to donate some used items to VVA and decided to Google them, finding this site. While I was concerned about possible shady reporting of expenses, in looking at the 2010 report it does appear that this is a macro overview of revenues and expenses for multiple programs they manage.

What is a bit odd is that the recycling program is the only program that has the expenses and net revenue listed under revenues, while the fund raising for all other programs appears under expenses. I think if the recycling program is run separately from the other programs that this is probably ok, but if the marketing is shared across programs, it should probably be combined.

I can say that even their moderate 25% return after expenses is still much better than many, if not most, of the biggest and most well known charities. The biggest names in the "business" often pass minimal funds on to the needy, yet have million-plus-dollar salaried executives on payroll and executive retreats in exotic places.

Admittedly, it seems inherently wrong to me for a non-profit to use for-profit marketing. Imagine, however, if they were to save $2 million by dumping the marketing firm but lose $4 million in revenue due to less publicity. Overall, the vets would lose out.

Non-profits pay for-profit power companies, airlines, gas/diesel, autos, etc., so I suppose it is not unheard of to pay for marketing or advertising.

I will continue on with my donation since I've already scheduled it, but as MMM points out, VVA should work to be more transparent. Those of us who want to help vets need to be able to do so with confidence that their charity is on the up and up.

These guys are vets helping vets, why not just follow the BBB standard and remove all doubt from our minds?

Thanks to our vets for their service, and to this site for holding charities accountable for honest reporting and use of donations.

If only MMM had a sister organization to do the same for the government - don't get me started! If you've read this far, thanks!

Dec 28, 2011
Agree with Chapter 991 President
by: Ron, Chapter 1009

I appreciate what you and your Chapter are doing and fully agree that people should donate to the local level in any or all of their giving.

As you say, there are no salaries and the overhead is minimal to say the least.

Keep up the good work and, "Welcome Home".

Thanks, Ron.

I have an idea - maybe if you'd get your local chapter presidents together and go after the national folks, telling them your local groups are getting a black eye over they way national is handling its finances and it's making it hard for your to get support, maybe you could get them to improve the situation? It's worth a try anyway.

Thanks to both of you for your service, and for your efforts on behalf of your fellow vets. And Welcome Home.

Janet, Editor

Dec 26, 2011
vva chapter 991 President
by: Allan Ayo

My disagreement was with your analogy of the bookkeeping creativity. This is what I had alluded to when speaking of MMM's not quite being on target.

In all the checking I've done and reviews I've made, the VVA National was pretty upfront about expenditures and no deliberate disguise, that I found!

** I believe it's a bit unfair to use the terms creative or clever in regards to their accounting practices when one hasn't proof!

(Example below)

"VVA has done some clever accounting, which is certified by its auditing firm to be in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). But we agree with the BBB that the information appears to be presented in such a way as to deliberately disguise a large part of fund raising expenses."

""NOW""...With all that said both your comment and my reply. My earlier "post remark" about your monies going where you expect them to. I strongly advise that you always donate to your local Veterans service organizations Chapters or Posts, rather than their parent or national branch. Much less overhead, and in the VVA's case no local chapter officers or directors make a dime!

It all comes from the heart and the love of our fellow brother and sister Veterans from all generations.

Allan Ayo

Thank you, Allan, for your response. With that remark, we were just agreeing with the BBB's assessment that the way the "recycling program" revenues are reported serves to hide the actual cost of producing that revenue, and that it would be clearer (and result in much different percentages) if reported the way the BBB broke it down. As we said, the VVA's auditing firm certified its accounting to be "in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles."

It is not unusual for charities to allocate certain expenses that most donors would consider fundraising expenses to other categories, and it is allowed by the IRS in certain instances. We try to cut through that to present a more accurate picture for our readers when we uncover information that paints a clearer picture.

Thank you for providing this additional information.

As you say, our goal is to make sure that as much donated money as possible goes to actually assist our veterans, and we encourage giving to organizations that use their funds wisely to achieve that objective.

Janet, Editor

Dec 26, 2011
A president of a VVA chapter myself
by: Allan Ayo

As the originator of this discussion way back when, I was able to find out that not all of MMM's original response to my question was exactly on target. I was able to find out that indeed some of what they had alluded to was correct.

I will at this point clarify my overall feelings in regards to the Vietnam Veterans Of America, and say, as did Ron (the last comment),that on the local level each VVA chapter does indeed work within its own bylaws and agenda and by all accounts "I'm familiar with" does a much greater job of helping all veterans and their families than does our National organization. "And for the readers herein better understanding", a better job than any of the better known Veterans service (National) organizations around our nation .....Key words here ARE (National Organizations)

Now for my point...If in fact you want to donate to any Veterans Service Organization, DO IT ON YOUR LOCAL LEVEL. I can assure you that in our case most (98%) of all the donations you make to our chapter will and does go directly to Veterans help and their families' help.

As is in the case of our VVA Chapter 991, along with the other help projects listed above, the donations also are given to Veterans children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews in the form of yearly scholarships. I as a chapter president am extremely proud of our accomplishments and would invite anyone with a doubt to consider contacting me through our website and see what's been done for the last several years since our chapter's inception in (July, 2007).

would be a good place to start removing your doubts, at least where the VVA local chapters are concerned.


Thanks, Allan, for reporting back to us. We're a little concerned, though, with your comment that "not all of MMM's original response to my question was exactly on target."

I just re-read our response to you, and all the information is taken from the VVA's own documents and the Better Business Bureau. So please let us know what part is not on target. BBB reported that VVA did not meet 11 of the 20 standards it uses to rate charities. That's more than half, so that's not a very good sign.

You requested information on the national organization, and that's what we gave you. Please let us know what part of our response you feel is inaccurate, and if you have data to back it up, we'll be happy to publish that, too.

Our goal here is just to get accurate information in the hands of our readers, so if you have some evidence that our earlier information is incorrect, please submit it.

Janet, Editor

Dec 26, 2011
VVA Chapter President
by: Ron

As a VVA Chapter President, I would like to pass on some information.

Each Chapter is an independent group operating under the VVA Org 501 (c) umbrella. Each Chapter operates in their local area with total autonomy. We concentrate all our resources to our local Vets.

Every member is a volunteer, and I can tell you that our chapter spends 99% back into our community Veterans. Our overhead consists of a post office box and a small storage room. Our meetings are in a donated room at a local restaurant.

We furnish rides to the VA Hospitals for local Veterans, build ramps for Veterans wheel chairs, buy beds and bedding for one terminal Vietnam Vet who was sleeping on the floor, scholarships, food pantry, supporting the local National Guard, adopting a unit overseas to send needed items too. We use raffles and dances to generate our funds and do not ask any business for items of any kind. I can only speak for us.

Ron, thank you for sharing that information with our readers. And thank you for the work you do on behalf of our Vietnam vets.

Sep 27, 2011
US Armed Forces Association and VVA?

I received a call from a Charity Organization calling itself the US Armed Forces Association. I questioned the caller and the caller stated that 80 percent of the funds raised go to overhead and only 20% goes to the Soldiers or Servicemembers.

I did not provide a donation, but started doing some research, and this organization also goes by the name of Vietnam Veterans of America and Veterans Support Foundation.

Is there anyway that this organization can be investigated? Their website shows the Board of Directors one of which states on his biography, that he is a former Army Captain and served as an intelligence officer in the Republic of Vietnam.

Thanks for your comments.

Your information is partially correct. The web site for the U.S. Armed Forces Association indicates they started out as the Vietnam Veterans Assistance Fund, but changed their name to reflect the fact that they include other veterans in addition to Vietnam veterans.

The name was changed to the Veterans Support Foundation, d/b/a (doing business as) US Armed Forces Association.

They do provide financial support in the form of grants to Vietnam Veterans of America for their Service Officer program, which assists veterans with claims for VA benefits.

You can learn more information about this partnership in USAFA's 2010 annual report, which also lists their expenses for 2010.

Feb 04, 2011
Good info -- not clear-cut case
by: Yoshi99

First off, great work on this site. It's great to see your head-on approach to these charities.

I'm conflicted about VVA, though. On one hand, the 25% going to actual services is low.

On the other hand, they are driving around picking up used stuff, sorting out the worthless stuff (which I'm sure they get a lot of), then re-selling it at likely fire sale prices.

This is a somewhat resource-intensive endeavor (trucks, warehouses, drivers, maintenance, sorters, mailers, etc.), so I would expect them to have expenses.

The real question is: what are they doing with the net income? After subtracting out fundraising expenses, are they putting most of what's left towards services, or are they padding their own wallets?

It's hard to tell if the "fund raising" and "administrative" expenses are legitimate, or if the group is overstaffed, overpaid, etc. My issue with some of the more fraudulent veterans charities is that they exist solely to benefit the founders and their families via outsized paychecks.

If VVA isn't just a vehicle to enrich its management, then I think the primary complaint is simply that VVA has selected an inefficient method of raising funds.

On the other hand, they are diverting a lot of stuff from landfills, they are employing some number of people, and they are providing services to veterans.

This is more than your typical fundraising-via-mail campaign, because VVA actually provides a service. Could they do better? Probably. Should they be shunned? I think we'd need more information first.

Dec 18, 2010
Not perfect, but definitely organized and convenient
by: veteran

RE: comment on
Nov 26, 2010
by: Anonymous
"This 'charity' is just not worth contributing to. It amounts to a scam."

If NO benefit went to the veterans I would agree, but since there is a reasonable benefit going to support programs, it should NOT be called a scam.

I donate clothing to them once or twice a year, using their bags, (that they send to me) on their schedule, and they do NOT harass me as other agencies do.

Dec 03, 2010
Where to Give
by: Cheech

I would love to give to some kind of charity that would benefit the Vets, but VVA doesn't sound like one I would like to donate to.

Could you give me some other Vet Charities I could give to. Thank you.

Cheech, you may want to see our list of honorable veterans charities who do great work for our military members and their families, while being good stewards of the funds donated to them.

Nov 26, 2010
I'm Confused
by: Monique

I am all for the veterans, and so when I received the postcard in the mail from VVA I went through my closet and my daughter's closet to collect clothes to donate. She especially has a lot of clothing that I bought new and was only worn a few times.

I want to get rid of the clothes and VVA makes it convenient for me, but on the other hand after reading the other comments about only a little goes directly to the vets I have had a change of heart.

What should I do, boycott VVA or donate with the logic that at least the veterans get something, which is better than nothing at all?

Monique, we appreciate your confusion. As other commenters have noted, VVA might be able to generate more cash from these donations if it operated its own retail arm, as Goodwill does. However, a brick-and-mortar location such as that entails a lot of overhead, for the building and its maintenance, and for employees. So in reality, after those expenses are deducted, it may not actually generate more.

The reason these types of programs are so popular is because, as you stated, they make it easy for you to get rid of items you no longer want, saving you the hassle of selling them in a garage sale, or via eBay. In that sense, they are also providing a service to you, which has some value.

So it's a decision for you to make. We just want to make sure that donors understand what is being done with their donations.

Thank you for your support of our veterans.

Nov 26, 2010
by: Anonymous

This 'charity' is just not worth contributing to. It amounts to a scam.

Aug 30, 2010
cash donation vs. value relative assets
by: Anonymous

The issue of percentage cost is wholly different when considering a cash donation to a charity and a non-cash donation.

If, for instance you were to donate your car, presumably a well-used car, which might have book value of $500, or a straight cash donation of $500; it is simply NOT the same thing.

The recipient of the cash, has no further expense. The recipient of the car however, must absorb the costs associated with transportation and a place to sell it, possibly make some minor repairs and some aesthetic enhancement to maximize the value of the donation.

It is not the same as a cash donation and should not be compared side- by- side numerically as if it were.


Your point is well made, even if a bit out of place in this conversation. Obviously, if you were to donate your car, that would, as you suggest, most likely entail additional expense for the charity and should not be compared to a cash donation of the same amount. I believe donors would recognize that.

By the same token, however, once the investment is made to repair or fix up the tax deductible car donations, they would likely be sold at a profit, even taking into account the expense of repairs to the car donations. So the net value to the charity from the car donations is likely to be more than an "equivalent" cash donation.

This conversation, however, is about used clothing, which should not involve additional cost for the charity, with the possible exception of cleaning or minor repairs.

Thank you for joining our conversation. If you have more information for our readers about car donations, please click below where it says "write your own page," and tell us more. Car donations is a topic we need more information about.

Aug 23, 2010
I Feel Fleeced Again!
by: L.S. in New Orleans

For years I have donated to VVA, with a picture of our veterans getting lots money so most of their needs would be met!!! What a joke!

Now I see that the minimum is going to the cause of Vets. A drop in the bucket with what they get for the donations.

I have been around 78 years and have watched charities giving lavish parties to raise money for their causes. Spend 35 thousand to make 10 thousand after expenses. People love to party so these fundraisers give them what they want at very little cost to them and they get their name and face in the newspaper.

I do not intend to donate to VVA again. I will give to a local group whom I know will do the right thing.

God bless the veterans. My heart has always gone out to you.

My precious husband was a WWII vet.

L.S. in New Orleans

Jun 25, 2010
Recycling Program
by: DougG

I came to your site looking for info on the United War Veterans Council that runs a similar program.

Please correct me if I'm wrong. While I agree with your many readers that want to confirm that their donations are really helping, I think that the expectations for these programs may be too high.

Assuming that the program revenue is what they receive for the clothing and goods that they sell, you can't really expect that to be a multiple of what their costs are. They are selling donated, used goods, some of which may be in very good shape, but much of which may not be (but it still costs them to pick up and dispose of it).

The only way I see to make better use of the donations would be to have a retail arm (like Goodwill), but most groups don't have that capability.

While I don't know how efficient or professional this organization is in carrying out their program, it may be unfair to look at it as an unworthy organization simply because the net revenue appears to be a small fraction of the overall revenue.

Doug, thank you for your comments.

Our beef with these organizations that raise substantial amounts of money in the name of our veterans is that they are pulling the wool over the eyes of the donors they solicit. By doing creative accounting (permitted by the regulations) to "hide" the true amount of fundraising expenses, they are misrepresenting the true picture.

Most of the veterans organizations that raise huge amounts of money do so by using third-party fundraising organizations, which are definitely "for profit." VVA resells the donated items in bulk to a third-party organization, likely at a substantial discount.

GuideStar lists VVA, and the search returned 811 responses. Apparently, each chapter is listed separately, and many filed separate Form 990s.

Using the BBB report, which shows the headquarters of VVA as Silver Spring, MD, we clicked on that result. There are no Forms 990.

So we can't get the details the Form 990 provides. But the financial report gives us enough information to say that VVA is passing through too much of the revenue to third-party organizations.

We don't think our expectations are "too high.? If these groups are collecting money from the general public for the benefit of America's veterans, the money should be used to benefit veterans, not for-profit fundraisers.

We disagree with accounting standards that allow charitable organizations to disguise fundraising expenses by calling them program expenses.

We believe there need to be tighter standards, both for the fundraising organizations, some of which pass through only 5 to 15% of the money they collect, and for the percentages the charities must dedicate to their stated causes.

When the fundraising expenses are correctly allocated, VVA used only 25% of collected funds for veterans services. That's appalling, no matter how you look at it.

Apr 17, 2010
Can we stop this?
by: Anonymous

Is there a way to stop these groups from fooling the honest people who want to support our vets?

It seems it's just too easy for them to get contributions that people think are going to veterans, when instead the money is going to fundraising outfits.

It's a shame that it's so easy to rip us off.

Is there any way to stop them?

Preston W Athey

Preston, thank you for your comments. We agree it just doesn't seem right for veterans charities to accept people's hard-earned money under the claim of helping our veterans, without having to make it clear to them just how much of the money actually goes to help veterans, and how much is spent on other things.

The problem lies with the IRS regulations pertaining to tax-exempt charitable organizations. In order to receive and maintain tax-exempt status with the IRS, an organization is required to devote as little as 5% (and in some cases less) of its revenue to supporting its charitable purposes.

As a result, a number of so-called "charitable organizations," including certain veterans charities, are little more than scams. There has been widespread abuse of the tax-exempt designation, particularly since 9/11, with many people attempting to take advantage of the generosity of Americans.

Let us make it clear, however, that we are not placing VVA in that category, as it does provide some valuable services to our veterans. The problem is that it could provide so many more with the level of donations it receives.

At a minimum, we feel it should be more transparent in its bookkeeping, and reflect the amount it is paying to generate the "recycling program" donations as fundraising expenses. We think any donor would consider those to be fundraising expenses, and would be unhappy to learn where their support goes.

Short of enacting changes to the IRS code, the only way we know of to stem the flow of money to charities who don't use the money in the way donors probably expect them to is to publicize how the money is actually used.

That is what we are doing here, with our reviews of various veterans charities, and you can help.

Please help us spread the word about these groups. You'll find a row of buttons across the bottom of the page to share this page via Google, Yahoo, Facebook, MySpace, StumbleUpon, Technorati,, and Twitter. That gives you an easy way to share this information. You can also e-mail a link to this page to your friends.

Remember, before you donate, make sure you know what your donation will be used for.

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