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March 4, 2017


Where does $10 to Paws for Purple Hearts Go?

by Anne Paddock

Paws for Purple Hearts (PPH)  is a non-profit (501) (c) (3) that teaches veterans to train service dogs for their fellow veterans with combat related injuries. According to the organization’s website, PPH provides the guidance for this program but according to the IRS Form 990 (2014) submitted to the IRS, PPH raised $1,311,433 and spent just $150,661 on this program – less than 12% of the revenue raised went towards the organization’s program.

The remaining funds were spent primarily on fundraising – in fact, $805,930 was spent on mailing lists, printing and publications, postage and shipping, professional fundraising services, supplies, and related office expenses. $99,242 was spent on the management of the organization while $255,610 was retained by the organization in their fund balance although PPH did give $29,917 to Bergin University for Canine Studies, which is where the program is from.

In other words, a $10 donation to PPH was used as follows:

$10.00:  Donation

-$ 6.20:  Mailing lists, printing and publications, postage and shipping, fundraising services, supplies, etc.

-$ 0.76:  Management Costs (primarily compensation)

-$ 6.96:  Subtotal Expenses for Fundraising and Management

$ 3.04:  Amount Remaining

-$ 1.16: Program Expenses (primarily compensation and a fee to an unnamed affiliate)

$ 0.02: Distribution to Bergin University of Canine Studies (where the veterans and dogs receive training)

$ 1.86: Amount Remaining:  Retained by PPH in their fund balance

As illustrated above, 2 cents of a $10 donation was provided to Bergin University of Canine Studies and $1.16 was used for program expenses (which is primarily two costs: compensation and a fee to an affiliate which appears to be a licensing fee to an unnamed affiliate). PPH spent nearly $7 of every $10 donation on fundraising expenses and retained nearly $2 for their fund balance.  So, if you don’t want your donation to primarily go to fundraising costs, don’t make a charitable contribution to this organization. It seems that making a donation directly to Bergin University of Canine Studies would make donation dollars go further.

To review the IRS Form 990 (2014) click here.

Update: September, 2019:  To read an update of the most recent IRS Form 990 (2017) available, click here.

6 Comments Post a comment
  1. Ginny Bankov
    Jul 13 2018

    I am thankful that your organization has done the work to expose these hucksters who use our precious service people to get rich. I wish more people were aware of how few pennies actually go to the individuals who fought for us.

  2. Susan
    Sep 12 2018

    Thank you for confirming what I already suspected. Unsolicited, I received a full-color calendar from them in the mail. I think this is a great cause, but will look for another organization support.

  3. Greg Michel
    Dec 15 2018

    I have contributed to this organization several times in the past yr, I was thinking about going on he mthly contribution, so I am glad that I read about how they spend donations. I do like the calendars they send out, but will have to find another to donate to, to where donations are spent more wisely.

    Sep 10 2019

    Thank you – I had my credit card ready — decided to check – No more to Them !!

  5. Craig Espisito
    Sep 10 2019

    Does anyone stop to look that the year you folks are talking about was 2014? It’s now 2019 and current and past audits are on Guidestar and the website. Please do some home work before jumping to conclusions.

  6. Sep 10 2019


    I would offer the same advice to you. Do your homework before you criticize people for commenting on factual information. We are not talking about current and past audits. The topic is the Form 990 that Paws for Purple Paws submitted to the IRS.

    When the post was written, the most recent IRS Form 990 available was 2014 (key: look at the posting date).

    Most non-profits are two years behind (and sometimes three years), meaning that the most recent Form 990’s available right now are from 2016 and 2017.

    Did you go to Paws for Purple Hearts and review the 2017 Form 990? Probably not. Because if you did, you would know that Paws for Purple Hearts raised $5.5 million, spent $2.5 million on postage, printing, publications, and marketing lists, $1.3 million on salaries and benefits, nearly $1 million on professional fees, and about $500,000 on office related expenses. So, Craig before you criticize other people for making comments on factual information, you may want to consider the factors surrounding that information and THEN look at the most recent 990’s available, which are from two years ago, and not much better than what was posted about 2014.

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