Do All Non-Profits really Support Veterans, Troops, and Military Families?

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About the most important thing that donors must know about any relief or support efforts is percentage wise how much really goes to our Veterans, Troops, and Military Families compared to a Non-Profit’s Admin and advertising overhead. In fact it is the most IMPORTANT thing for anyone thinking about supporting our Vets, Troops, and Families needs to know.

Matthew Ayres, the Marketing Manager for GreatNonprofits contacted the Editorial Board of VT asking us to make a pitch for this effort that has allied itself with Guidestar, the charitable and non-profit donation watchdog organization to provide donors an opportunity to rate Veteran, Troop, and Military family support efforts ourselves.

Although we view this as a great step forward in helping donors decide which efforts and causes to support, there is no fund raising efficiency measure taken by GreatNonprofits. The non-profits are rated on what users think about the effort or cause not how much money goes to non-profit administration and advertising overhead versus to Veterans, troops, and families.

That does not mean that GreatNonprofits IS NOT a good deal, on the contrary it is a decent effort to qualify the services provided to us by these non-profits not quantify they, but what we recommend is using the user ratings and reviews provided by GreatNonprofits and cross checking the efficiency rating of a given effort or cause with let’s say Guidestar, Charity Navigator, or the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP).

Just because a non-profit has testimonials from users does not mean it is effective at its mission.  However, because an effort or cause does not appear on, or is not rated by any of the watchdogs doesn’t mean it is not efficient and effective at funds raised going toward its mission or cause.

It is up to each donor to determine what percentage of funds raised goes to administrative overhead and advertising to sell the non-profit as opposed to what the effort claims to do. Most legitimate non-profits would be more than glad to provide donors such information or they must have something to hide.

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, VT News

2010 Veterans Choice Campaign (http://www.greatnonprofits.org/veterans).

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Matthew notes that the 2010 Veterans Choice Campaign is a ground-breaking campaign, launched in partnership with the charity watchdog organization and efficiency rater GuideStar, the Veterans support organizations Swords to Plowshares, and the Silver Star Families of America, is the first ever effort to identify and promote nonprofits that serve our veterans and their families regardless of political affiliation or views.

VT Editorial Comment: For example the now defunct Pentagon run AmericaSupportsYou.mil effort that has now been hidden in the bowels of the DoD Community Relations section of Public Affairs was found to be a propaganda network that promoted only nonprofits, efforts, and causes that blindly supported the Pentagon’s and government’s position on the War on Terror, Iraq, and Afghanistan. The umbrella organization was also found in several violations of fund raising and handling of tax payer dollars by the DoD Inspector General. We understand that GreatNonprofits takes no political stand, is not subsidized by tax payer dollars, and focuses only on supporting Veterans, Troops, and families sent in harm’s way, since Vets, troops, and families do not make political decisions to go to war but only implement those policies as best they can. A more proficient, fair, and impartial rating system used by DoD today can be found at Our Military Citizen Support that uses the watchdog services of GuideStar, Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau, and Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) to oversee fund raising efficiency and prevent fraud, waste, and abuse. Many of the support efforts mentioned by GreatNonprofits also appear on this revised Pentagon rating system. Now when you select an America Support You Home front group category the link shows you not only a listing of non-profits but which charity watchdog organization has rated them. However, a donor still must go to that watchdog organization’s website to see what that rating was.

Matthew informs us that approximately 43,000 people have come to the GreatNonprofits Web site and posted close to 1000 reviews of 114 veterans nonprofits. Organizations participating include the USO, Blinded Veterans Association, Disabled American Veterans, and others large and small across the country. The stories coming in illustrate the important work these groups are doing.

For example, one client of Air Compassion for Veterans (an effort rated by Charity Navigator as a four star charity and screened by the CFC) shared this story: “My brother was critically wounded in Iraq in August of 2007. He spent the majority of the next seven months in the ICU with a traumatic brain injury, until he passed away from other complications. Air Compassion for Veterans helped me travel to Washington, D.C., every other week to spend time with my brother and help relieve my parents. Without (their) help, I wouldn’t have been able to afford all of the traveling that I did. I am grateful for the time I was able to spend with my brother.”

Unfortunately, the 2010 Veterans Choice campaign ends on March 31st, but we at VT view the sponsors GreatNonprofits, GuideStar, Swords to Plowshares, Silver Star Families of America, and the Coalition for Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans as excellent sources of information on giving for donors, thank them for their efforts on behalf of America’s Veterans, Our Troops, and families, AND we congratulate Air Compassion for Veterans in Virginia for achieving a four star efficiency rating from Charity Navigator.

Robert L. Hanafin, Major, U.S. Air Force-Retired, Veteran Today News.

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