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January 28, 2016

11

Where does $1 to American Homeless Vets go?

by Anne Paddock

This past week, my phone rang and a woman identifying herself as “Laurie” from “American Homeless Vets” was calling to request a donation. The organization is actually the Center for American Homeless Veterans but doing business as American Homeless and Disabled Veterans (AHDV) and also known as the Association for Homeless and Disabled Veterans. Sound confusing?  It is but the mission of the organization is very clear. AHDV is an advocacy organization (a non-profit 501 (c) (4)) that educates the public about homeless veterans and creating awareness of solutions to this problem. They publish, print, and distribute The Veteran’s Vision and they outreach to congress regarding the needs of homeless veterans.

As I was talking to Laurie, I brought up the organization’s website and the most recent Form 990 (2013 for the year ending September 30, 2014) filed with the IRS.  The phone call ended when I realized the solicitor worked for Outreach Calling – a solicitation firm in Reno, Nevada who raised $2,088,746 for AHDV and was compensated $1,424,197 (68% of the amount collected), netting AHDV $664,509, or 32% of the amount collected. In other words, a $1 contribution made over the phone to this organization netted the charity 32 cents. The solicitation company made more money on the contribution than the charity.

The 2013 IRS Form 990 reveals the following information:

AHDV collected $2,126,709 in total revenue, of which $2,088,746 (98% of revenue) was collected by Outreach Calling. The remaining $37,963 (2% of total revenue) came from other contributions.

Expenses totalled $2,127,351, slightly more than what the organization collected. These expenses are reported to be:

  • $1,424,197 or 67% of total revenue: Professional Fundraising Fees (Outreach Calling)
  • $453,115 or 21% of total revenue: Other (primarily consulting:  program services with no detail provided)
  • $200,005 or 10% of revenue: Salaries, Benefits, and payroll taxes
  • $23,046 or 1% of revenue: Legal, Accounting, Interest
  • $22,544 or 1% of revenue: Office, IT, Occupancy, Insurance, Conferences, State Registration, Penalty
  • $2,661: Publications
  • $1,000: Grants to Individuals
  • $783: Advertising and Promotion

In other words, $1 revenue was spent as follows:

 $1.00:  Revenue

-$0.67:  Fees to fundraiser

-$0.21:  Other expenses (primarily consulting)

-$0.10:  Salaries, Benefits, and Payroll Taxes

-$0.01:  Legal, Accounting, Interest

-$0.01:  Office, IT, Occupancy, Insurance, Conferences, State Registration, Penalty

$0.00

Based on the above information there appears to be two issues:

  1. The fundraising firm is taking 68 cents of every dollar collected (or 67 cents of total revenue) leaving the organization with only 32 cents. For donations to go further, donations should be made directly to the organization: Center for American Homeless Veterans, 210 East Broad Street, Suite 202, Falls Church, VA 22046
  2. Other expenses of $453,115 are described as consulting for program services (but the only firm paid more than $100,000 is Outreach Calling for fundraising). These expenses, which comprise 21 cents of every $1 appear to be part of the media campaign, the lobbying of congress, and the publishing, printing, and distribution of The Veterans Vision, but the specifics are not provided which raises questions.

In summary, the Center for American Homeless Veterans appears to primarily be an organization that focuses on educating the public and congress on homeless veterans and the solutions to alleviate this problem. Unfortunately, the fundraiser – Outreach Calling – retains more funds than are given to the organization.

To read the entire IRS Form 990 (2013), click here.

11 Comments Post a comment
  1. Jeanette
    Jan 11 2017

    thanks so much for this info…. I nearly donated to them thinking they actually helped homeless veterans!

  2. M Peveto
    Jan 14 2017

    With 68% going to the “call center outsourced” company , I will not be donating. I work too hard for my money.

    Do not contact me for it will not be pleasant for that Caller.

  3. Bob
    Jan 16 2017

    I almost donated to this solicitation but after reading the above report, I will instead support my fellow veterans locally.

  4. Jan 16 2017

    A better decision for sure…68 cents of your dollar won’t go to the fundraiser.

  5. Allen Hosticka
    Jan 17 2017

    “Based on the above information there appears to be two issues:

    The fundraising firm is taking 68 cents of every dollar collected (or 67 cents of total revenue) leaving the organization with only 32 cents. For donations to go further, donations should be made directly to the organization: Center for American Homeless Veterans, 210 East Broad Street, Suite 202, Falls Church, VA 22046”

    Really this is your conclusion. Come on Anne! with 68% going to fundraising can’t you just say DONATE ELSEWHERE !

    If you are going to post these articles, take a stand where it is warranted.

  6. Jan 17 2017

    Allen: You need to separate the issues and look at things as less black and white. American Homeless Veterans is using a marketing company called Outreach to raise money for them. Just because they use a marketing company that takes too high a percentage of the donations does not mean American Homeless Veterans is not going good things. They need to stop using the marketing firm and approach fundraising differently so that more dollars are going to the non-profit and less to the marketing company. So, no I absolutely WILL NOT take a blanket stand and say donate elsewhere. Just because a non-profit is doing one aspect wrong does not make them all bad. Very few things in life are black and white. You can apply this same logic to ALSAC and St. Jude’s. They spend a lot on fundraising, keep billions in savings, and yet they are still doing good things. They could do things better and that is the point with most non-profits.

  7. Amy
    Jan 27 2017

    Thank you for this info. I made a pledge and received the envelope to return it this week. I write them a note stating that my donation amount will go to an organization that will actually help and not make a profit in the name of our veterans.

  8. Julia Nix
    Mar 3 2017

    Why are you paying 62% to solicitors. Disgraceful. I gave $10 but I will never give again. I sent the check right away and they are still sending me notices wanting their donation even though they have already cashed the check. Not cool!!

  9. Mar 3 2017

    Hi Julie: Your comment is to my site so if you want to let them know how you feel, please go to their website: http://www.americanhomelessvets.org. Your opinion counts!

  10. Paula
    Mar 15 2017

    Thank you for this information.

  11. Xhris a
    Apr 5 2017

    I also just received a call from AHV stating they were conducting compensated fund raiser. When I asked what that meant, the line was cut off. Don’t fall for this scam.

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