The 5 Biggest Charity Scandals of the Decade [Must See]
Giving to charity has always been a gesture of kindness, a helping hand to those in need. For the last few decades there have been many organizations that aim to offer help to ongoing issues that our world is facing today. Helping those in need, protecting the environment, medical research, the list is ongoing. And especially since the creation of popular funding platform gofundme.com, people can also invest easier into more specific cases, helping one individual at a time.
However, it is often so that donation recipients may opt to use the collected amount of money for different reasons that those initially presented. This can be true for both organizations and individuals. As thus, confidence to invest in charity is at an all time low and people are slowly realizing that there is more going on behind the scenes.
In a world where trust and transparency from non-profit organizations is often questionable, we have compiled a list of the 5 biggest charity scandals that saw a large media coverage in the last decade.
1. The $500 million that went missing
2010. A large scale earthquake hits Haiti and there are many casualties. Not only that but the city is practically destroyed. No housing, many injured and a worldwide call for help from all nations.
The earthquake in Haiti, 8 years ago, caused a massive media coverage which resulted in collecting an amount of approximately $500 million donated to the Red Cross to relief the injured and build houses for the people in need (this was merely a fraction of the total financial aid given at that time).
According to planning, 130.000 people were supposed to get free housing and the Red Cross took the initiative.
A few years later, looking back at the incident, not only were the targets not met, the Red Cross only built 6 houses for the victims. People were still homeless and in need of help. When an investigation started to see where the huge sum went, the Red Cross pointed out that the amount was used for victims’ relief without further going into depth of the expenses. The number of victims they presented to the investigation were much higher than the actual victims of the earthquake and, to this day, there are many unanswered questions for the usage of the money.
2. The extravagant lifestyle of the charity’s executives
Boats, parties, alcohol and expensive restaurant dinners. The Wounded Warrior Project certainly is one of the most famous charitable organizations in the US, offering relief to veterans. However, most charities use 4-10% of their donations for operations and company expenses. This was not the case with WWP. The organizations’ top executives were found, through interviews with former employees, to spend as much as 40% of their total income for company expenses. This included overly expensive conferences, fancy hotels, business class flights and expensive dinners. The organization has since made efforts to become more transparent with their spending but the story certainly does not end there.
3. The cancer fund that was accused for being a fraud.
In 2015, a complaint was made, by the Federal Trade Commission of the US, against the Cancer Fund of America. The reason was due to the fact that the organization was providing the public with fake claims with regards to the use of the donations.
The complaint claimed that a little under $200 million from the donations was used to profit the executives of the organization and their families as well as paying overly large amounts to marketing and advertisement companies over a 5-year period.
The FTC mention that this is “one of the largest actions brought to date by enforcers against charity fraud.”
The Cancer Fund of America did not give any comments and has not made any official statements with regards to this specific matter.
4. Avoiding tax payments by “accident”.
The Helpers Community Inc. is one of the rather popular charities in the US and probably the most important in San Francisco. The organization was found, in 2017, to have misinterpreted their tax exemptions for their 4 properties, saving them in the meantime more than $100.000. The organization claimed that is was an internal mistake made by employees who lacked the expertise and promised better working practices.
This is not the only charity that attempted to avoid tax payments. Many charities have found to do the same for their own reasons but we decided to present the one charity that you are most likely familiar with.
5. Funding luxury holiday with charity donations
Between the years 2008-2015, it was found that the Finance Chief of the Jubilee Hall Trust had fleeced more than $1.500.000 to fund luxury vacations, VIP concert tickets and a Mercedes Benz. Referred as an “accomplished liar” by her boss, Chasjit Verma had slowly managed to steal a large amount of money from the organization by supposedly paying suppliers and operational expenses.
Due to her bad performance and attitude within the company she was assessed multiple times by her superiors, which eventually resulted I an investigation on her working computer, revealing all the payments made with the intention of personal profit. While the evidence was made clear, the charity denies its involvement in the scandal and the trial is still ongoing. We are left to wait and see whether Chasjit will be brought to justice.
An increasing number of charities today is shadowed by the personal greed and dishonesty of their founders and executives. While we have currently presented some cases where the issue was uncovered and brought to the media’s attention, this is only the tip of the iceberg. There are many more similar issues that are not and most likely will never be uncovered. Therefore, we strongly suggest that you perform you own research before decided to invest in a charity you believe in. Read the reviews on their website and, if possible, talk with people who have supported the organization for a long time. This will make you understand the fundamental values of the company and help you make you decision.
It’s time to take action
It is time that charities start to reprioritize, making trust by the public and transparency the frontline of change. Because this is the only way for the public to start giving once again, for the sake of giving.
Now, you can make a difference.