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Where do your donations go? Watchdog group says some veterans charities are failing

Photo: tOrange.us / CC BY-SA 4.0

The head of the nation's largest council of nonprofits says people have become more skeptical about donating to charities.

This is direct fallout from the financial scandal at the Wounded Warrior Project, which has come under scrutiny for the way it spends donated dollars.

But there are good and bad charities and then there are ones that get a stamp of approval from Congress.

Sinclair wanted to find out how congressionally chartered veterans charities stack up to others.

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Americans donated nearly 360 billion dollars to charity in 2014, according to Giving USA.

Hundreds of millions of dollars is given each year to congressionally chartered veterans charities.

Charity Watch, an industry watchdog, says the charter is neither a good housekeeping seal nor does it carry congressional oversight.

"If it's abused, it's reprehensible," said Congressman Scott Perry (R- Pennsylvania).

Sinclair looked at about a dozen of the more than 40 congresionally chartered veterans groups. Charter's were voted into law and given to charities that lawmakers deemed in the public's interest.

According to Charity Watch rankings none scored higher than a "D" and some received an "F."

"That's very abnormal and I'm stunned that you are finding this," said Tim Delaney, president of the National Council of Nonprofits.

The Wounded Warrior project, which is not chartered, has come under fire for how it spends donor dollars and it was given a "C" by Charity Watch.

The grades are largely based on how much a charity spends to raise one hundred dollars.

One chartered veteran's charity paid out $89 to raise $100. That left only $11 to veterans.

"What they are doing is using that status, so to speak to defraud people," said Rep. Perry.

Delaney said, "personally, I would never give money to an organization where I found out so much of its money was going to fundraising."

For some veterans, it hurts knowing donors hearts are in the right place but some charities hearts are not.

"Most charities take the money and do something else," said veteran Larnold Charles.

"They should do the right thing."

Rep. Perry told Sinclair there's no appetite in Washington to revoke charters.

Congress ended the practice of giving out congressional charters in the 1990's.

Delany encourages donors to use the web to see what charities do with donations. Several sites, including Charity Watch and Guidestar, offer up tax filings of individual nonprofits and more.

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