Skip to comments.Vietnam Veterans of America (Recycling Program Scam?)
Posted on 02/03/2011 6:58:17 AM PST by TSgt
Vietnam Veterans Of America by Allan Ayo (Oakwood,Texas. USA)
Do you have a rating for Vietnam Veterans of America (the national organization)? It's not shown on your page of charitable 501 C3 or 501 C19 organizations.
Thank you for your question about Vietnam Veterans of America.
Our research indicates that VVA was incorporated in New York in 1978. Its stated purpose, as reported to the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance (BBB): "to improve the condition of the Vietnam veteran and promote social welfare improvements in the United States, study proposed legislation which may affect the welfare of the Vietnam veteran, provide assistance to groups interested in the development of programs to meet the economic and social needs of veterans and assist disabled and needy war veterans including, but not limited to, the Vietnam veteran, and their dependents and the widows and orphans of deceased veterans."
Apparently, the statement of purpose has been updated on the VVA website and is slightly re-worded, but is too lengthy to repeat here. If you'd like to read it, you'll find it at vva.org/purpose.html.
We found an interesting contradiction between the stated purpose (above, and on the web site), which specifies "to assist disabled and needy military veterans including, but not limited to, Vietnam-era veterans" and this statement on their "who we are" page: "Vietnam Veterans of America is the only national Vietnam veterans organization . . . exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans and their families."
Further down the "who we are" page, under "special programs" it lists: "support the next generation of America's war veterans."
So it appears to us that VVA has decided to expand its programs to include the current generation of veterans, but hasn't changed its claim to be the only national Vietnam veterans organization "exclusively dedicated to Vietnam-era veterans."
The web site for Vietnam Veterans of America has a page titled "VVA Strategic Documents," where there is a link to its 2009 Annual Report. If you work your way through the annual report, you'll find a statement of revenues and expenses near the end.
VVA has done some clever accounting, which is certified by its auditing firm to be in accordance with generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP). But we agree with the BBB that the information appears to be presented in such a way as to deliberately disguise a large portion of fundraising expenses.
Here's what happens: Vietnam Veterans of America operates what it calls a "Recycling Program," in which it collects discarded household items that are then re-sold (in bulk) to contracted private companies. The recycling program costs shown in the financial statements are VVA's "solicitation costs for generating the items collected" (in other words, its cost to raise the funds generated by the program, or what most of us would call "fundraising expenses"). So, in its financial statements, VVA subtracts those fundraising costs first and lists "net" revenue generated by the recycling program. This is explained in the "notes to financial statements" on p. 19 of the Annual Report.
That may not seem very significant until you see the numbers, and the difference it makes.
VVA's audited financial statement for the year ended February 28, 2009 (the most recent available on its web site), shows:
Recycling Program Revenue: $18,258,434 Less Recycling Program Cost: $13,299,038 Net Recycling Program Revenue: $4,959,396
That net number is what is used to reflect revenue generated by the recycling program, so VVA lists total revenues and support of $6,970,385.
Then, when it lists expenses, it shows $5,129,994 in program services expenses, and only $726,511 under "fund-raising." Those numbers look much more respectable to potential donors, because they "hide" the $13.3 million dollars (!) spent to "raise the funds" realized by the recycling program.
When the BBB re-calculated the numbers, the picture looks very different. Here's what BBB shows:
Total income: $19,330,779
Program expenses: $5,129,994 Fundraising expenses: $14,430,184 Administrative expenses: $1,207,652 Total expenses: $20,767,830 Net loss for the year: ($1,437,051)
Thus, the BBB reports as of March 2010 that Vietnam Veterans of America spent just 25% of revenue on veterans programs, and a whopping 69% on fundraising expenses, with the remaining 6% going to administrative expenses.
The BBB sets forth 20 standards for charity accountability. According to its March 2010 report, Vietnam Veterans of America does not meet 11 of those standards. It did meet 7 of the standards, and failed to produce the information required to determine compliance with the remaining 2 standards. You can get more details by clicking the link above and reading the BBB report.
Vietnam Veterans of America was not among the organizations included in the American Institute of Philanthropy's report to Congress in 2007.
I called the VVA and this is how it works. They contract with for profit fundraisers to pickup donations which is accomplished via relentless telemarketing. The company then pays the VVA an undisclosed sum for the goods which are then sold in the company's thrift store for profit. The VVA never touches the goods and neither the VVA or the local for profit company can or will tell me how much the VVA gets on the goods that are donated.
My investigation resulted from relentless telemarketing by a company called Cherryhill Management in Cincinnati.
I don't understand how they can offer legal tax deductions for the donated items since a for profit is actually receiving the goods not the VVA?
Vietnam Veterans of America vs. Disabled American Veterans vs. Wounded Warrior Project:
VVA 25% goes to help veterans, DAV 77% goes to help veterans, WWP 82% goes to help veterans. I recommend supporting DAV and WWP charities which are both BBB accredited.
BBB Wise Giving Report for Vietnam Veterans of America http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/veterans-and-military/vietnam-veterans-of-america-in-silver-spring-md-115
BBB Wise Giving Report for Disabled American Veterans http://www.bbb.o...rg/charity-reviews/national/veterans-and-military/disabled-american-veterans-in-cold-spring-ky-1692
BBB Wise Giving Report for Wounded Warrior Project http://www.bbb.org/charity-reviews/national/veterans-and-military/wounded-warrior-project-in-jacksonville-fl-3806
Vietnam Veterans deserve better...
All recycling programs are a scam.
Even the scrap metals drives in WW2 were just for public morale boosting. Very little was ever done with the pots and pans collected.
Socialists then and now need to provide people with busy work, so that the people feel good about themselves and that they are contributing.
Most charities are scams after a while too. They start out with good intentions and then they become top heavy and dependent on the money.
VVA was exposed as a communist/anti-American group in “Stolen Valor.” Many of us vets had already come to the same conclusion.
Thank you for your service and reply.
When I began investigating the organization and their methods something just didn’t pass the smell test.
I don’t appreciate people profiting off the backs of those who gave so much. I understand that there are costs associated with fundraising however 69% is unacceptable.
I do not see the problem here:
1. These “scams” (private companies who buy the donations) pay out quite a bit of money to the charities
2. There are annual bids by these companies to ensure the charity gets the most money possible.
3. These “scams” provide THOUSANDS of jobs for Americans. (Those millions you mention as not going to the charity go to Americans who work for these companies; making cold calls, collecting items, thrift store employees, etc)
4. They collect your old household items, providing a time saving service to you!
5. These thrift stores help the poorer communities they reside in.
So where, yes, it is true that the charities do not get 100% of the proceeds from these collections, these companies are paying a lot of the remaining money to employees (in America). I work for one of these dreaded companies. My husband was laid off and I had to get a job to help support my children, American children in an American household. I live in a small town and jobs are scarce here, as many other places right now. This company is one of the only places within 100 miles of me that offers jobs on a regular basis. My family and I would be homeless right now if not for this “scam”.
Are there other places you could donate to? Sure. Will that charity get more of the proceeds? Yes. But do not demonize these companies. They are providing a service and at the moment they are also providing food and clothing for my children. I would think the American public would be pleased to help a company that is not only helping charities but also helping hard working American citizens. These jobs are not outsourced, like those at AOL, AT&T, Nike, and Microsoft to name just a few. We happily spend millions on their products yearly, yet they give jobs to overseas employees because it’s cheaper and the big wigs line THEIR pockets with your hard earned money. Everyone is trying to make a buck. I personally would much rather give money, donations, time, and respect to an American company with American employees. Support the AMERICAN economy AND charities at the same time. Sounds like a win win.
These companies provide THOUSANDS of jobs to Americans. I work for one as it is one of the only places that hires consistently in my small town. When my husband was laid off I was greatful that I had a place to turn to earn money to pay my bills and buy food for my children.
That 69% goes to cost associated with: 1. Call centers making cold calls looking for donations (my call center employees over 800 people at $10/hr to start, that’s a lot of Americans gainfully employed). 2. Call centers set up to take inbound donation calls and answer questions. 3. Gas, maintenance, and the drivers of the collection trucks. 4. Maintaining the thrift stores, which the poor of the community use. 5. Thrift store employees. 6. Purchasing list of possible donators (as so many find these companies despicable new donors are always needed)
I am sure there are more cost to running these companies but those are the ones I know of. These are not horrible companies stealing out from under your and the charities noses. They are employing many, many Americans who would be most likely unemployed and on welfare if not for the jobs offered.
Thousands of jobs? Hardly...
The VVA relies on FOR PROFIT companies to do their dirty work. The FOR PROFIT companies give a pittance of what they collect to the VVA. Most of what the VVA takes in goes back into fundraising. It’s a self-perpetuating scam.
Cherry Hill Management is one of those FOR PROFIT companies
They aren’t rated with the BBB either
I’ve researched this well and know what I’m talking about.
Thank you for your view on this. I did a Google search looking for info on the VVA, as I’ve been donating to them quite heavily. I wanted to know where their storefronts were- I thought they were like Goodwill. As I began reading the thread, I was having misgivings about my givings (lol). Then, I read your post and the one below it, and I AGREE with YOU 100%. While, I don’t like the shroud of secrecy surrounding the organization, I DO appreciate the jobs it creates. It’s economic stimulus.
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