A Check on How Charities Are Spending Your Money

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COLUMBIA - KOMU 8 News set out to discover which charities in Mid-Missouri are spending your donations on services, and which ones are spending that money on something else. The investigation looked at data from the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and charity watchdog website Charity Navigator.

The BBB requires charities to meet 20 different criteria to become an accredited charity. This includes requiring that a charity spend at least 65 percent of its total expenses on program activities and no more than 35 percent of related contributions on fundraising.

"We want charities to be transparent. We want folks to be able to know when they make donations that it's going to the charity. They know exactly how it's going to be spent. We want to foster trust between these charities and individuals," BBB Regional Director Mike Harrison said.

Charity watchdog website Charity Navigator ranks charities on a star and numerical rating system. The ratings are based on a charity's financial performance, accountability and transparency. Extended breakdowns of each of these categories is available on the Charity Navigator website for each of the charities listed in KOMU's report.

These three local charities ranked in the highest in terms of donations spent on programs and services, transparency and accountability.

The Food Bank of Central and Northeast Missouri
Percent of budget spent on programs and services it provides: 98 percent
Stars: 4/4
Rating: 63.37 out of 70
Source: Charity Navigator 

Accredited by the Better Business Bureau

A pie chart from Charity Navigator breaking down the expenses of the Food Bank

(Graphic courtesy of Charity Navigator)

According to the BBB audit of the Food Bank's financial statements of the 2012 fiscal year, the Food Bank's total expenses were spent on:

Programs: $47,374,476
Fund Raising: $1,508,102
Administrative: $269,584
Total Expenses: $49,152,162

Here's a breakdown of how the program expenses were spent:
Children's Program: $631,863
Food Pantry: $229,274
Food Distribution: $46,513,339
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Total Program Expenses: $47,374,476

The Food Bank for Central and Northeast Missouri had a total income of $50,813,403 for 2012. $44,562,087 of that came from food donations and another $5,557,535 came from other donations, fund raising and grants.

MERS Missouri Goodwill Industries

Percent of budget spent on programs and services it provides: 95 percent
Stars: 4/4
Rating: 61.29 out of 70
Source: Charity Navigator

Accredited by the Better Business Bureau

A pie chart from Charity Navigator breaking down the expenses of MERS Missouri Goodwill Industries

(Graphic courtesy of Charity Navigator)

According to the BBB audit of the MERS Missouri Goodwill Industries' financial statements of the 2010 fiscal year, Goodwill's total expenses were spent on:

Program Expenses: $97,682,240
Fund raising expenses: $1,683,272
Administrative expenses: $5,239,650
Total Expenses: $104,605,162

Here's a breakdown of program spending:
Stores and Salvage: $73,382,491
Employment and Training: $15,629,488
Contract Services: $6,352,895
Other: $1,648,470
Sheltered Workshop: $668,896
Total Program Expenses: $97,682,240

MERS Missouri Goodwill Industries had a total income of $110,529,306 for 2010. $43,678,629 of that came from store and salvage sales.

Concerns of Police Survivors (Camdenton, Mo.)
Percent of budget spent on programs and services it provides: 87 percent
Stars: 4/4
Rating: 63.99 out of 70
Source: Charity Navigator

Still in review process with Better Business Bureau

A pie chart from Charity Navigator breaking down the expenses of Concerns of Police Survivors

(Graphic courtesy of Charity Navigator)

The following charities are spending less than 13 percent of donations on the programs and services they provide. They are not based in mid-Missouri, but they solicit donations in the state. Each of the following charities also made the Missouri attorney general's 15 Worst Charities List put out in 2010.

Cancer Survivors' Fund
Percent of budget spent on programs and services it provides: 7 percent
Stars: 0/4
Rating: 15.27 out of 70
Source: Charity Navigator

A pie chart from Charity Navigator breaking down the expenses of Cancer Survivors' Fund

(Graphic courtesy of Charity Navigator)

According to Charity Navigator's audit of the Cancer Survivors' Fund for the 2013 year, the organization's funds were spent on:

Program Expenses: $99,309
Administrative Expenses: $32,916
Fundraising Expenses: $1,260,139
Total Expenses: $1,392,364

The group's total revenue for the fiscal year end 2013 was $1,395,693.

The BBB does not have a report on the Cancer Survivors' Fund.

Firefighters Charitable Foundation
Percent of budget spent on programs and services it provides: 7 percent
Stars: 0/4
Rating: 19.37 out of 70
On Charity Navigator's list of Top 10 Consistently Low-Rated Charities
Source: Charity Navigator

A pie chart from Charity Navigator breaking down the expenses of Firefighters Charitable Foundation

(Graphic courtesy of Charity Navigator)

According to Charity Navigator's audit of the Firefighters Charitable Foundation for the 2012 fiscal year, the organization's funds were spent on:

Program Expenses: $533,711
Administrative Expenses: $395,768
Fundraising Expenses: $6,678,453
Total Expenses: $7,607,932

The group's total revenue for fiscal year end 2012 was $7,600,411.

The BBB does not have a report on the Firefighters Charitable Foundation.

Wishing Well Foundation
Percent of budget spent on programs and services it provides: 12.4 percent
Stars: 0/4
Rating: 2.93 out of 70
Source: Charity Navigator

A pie chart from Charity Navigator breaking down the expenses of Wishing Well Foundation

(Graphic courtesy of Charity Navigator)

According to Charity Navigator's audit of the Wishing Well Foundation for the 2012 fiscal year, the organization's funds were spent on:

Program Expenses: $143,526
Administrative Expenses: $88,387
Fundraising Expenses: $920,167
Total Expenses: $1,152,080

The group's total revenue for fiscal year end 2012 was $1,145,257.

The BBB does not have a report on the Wishing Well Foundation.

For each of the three above charities the BBB has this posted on its website: "This charitable organization either has not responded to written BBB requests for information or has declined to be evaluated in relation to BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Charity participation in BBB review is voluntary. However, without the requested information, it is not possible to determine whether this charity adheres to all of the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability."

To research charities not listed in this report, check out the Missouri Attorney General's Check a Charity website, the BBB Charity Search page or Charity Navigator.

(Graphics used in this report are correct as of May 14, 2014, but update periodically on the Charity Navigator website.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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