Thursday, March 15, 2007

American Veterans Coalition Letter

The actual letter I sent:

Dear American Veterans Coalition,


Thank you for helping to inspire me to donate money to help our nation's veterans.

When I talked to your representative (which I normally don’t do, since I never give money to strangers who cold call me; but the recent scandals about Walter Reed and the VA naturally make many trusting and well-intentioned Americans, including myself, particularly vulnerable to entreaties to help veterans) I made it clear that I was skeptical about your organization and that I would certainly send $15 if the American Veterans Coalition was what he made it out to be.

Of course I looked up your organization. Although the Better Business Bureau has heard of you, they have no information (a red flag). There are several charity watchdog groups online which also have no listings. Luckily, I found a 2005 article by Matthew Kauffman in the Hartford Courant.1 It said that the American Veterans Coalition, one of several charities run by Robert Friend, gives a very small percentage of the proceeds it collects, if it gives any at all. I was pleased to see by your own website that at least a few thousand dollars have made their way to already established charities, such as local branches of Disabled American Veterans.2

I understand that charities operate as middle men, helping to get money from donators to the needy, and that there are administrative costs. However, it occurred to me that the American Veterans Coalition is a middle man for the middle man. If I were to send $15 to your organization, probably only about $2.25 would actually make it to an established veterans organization, and after their administrative costs, only about $1.68 would go directly toward helping a veteran.

Of course, 1.1% of $15 is better than 100% of nothing. But 76%3 of $15 is way better than 1.1% of $15. So it makes much more sense, purely from a business perspective, for me to send my money directly to one of the charities your organization would send my money to.

So I've decided to send $15 to Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust.4 I know it cost American Veterans Coalition money to send the envelope that I mailed this letter in. But as veterans need my money much more than Robert Friend, his wife, or even their cold callers, and as the goal of American Veterans Coalition is to help veterans, I'm sure all would agree that this was a much more efficient use of time, money and resources than usual.

Sincerely,

Julie O.

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1. http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm/bay/content.view/cpid/351.htm
2.
http://www.american-veterans.org/help.html
3.
http://www.dav.org/donations/faq.html
4. http://www.dav.org/cst/index.html


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