Charity scandals hit us deep. We trust charities to help people who can’t help themselves – children, the poor, single mothers, veterans, the disabled – and we trust these charities to put our money to good use. When something goes wrong, everybody loses: the people who are supposed to be helped by the charity, the honest people working there who had nothing to do with the wrongdoing, and us, for the emotional investment we made. Here are three high profile charity scandals.
1. Feed The Children
Founded in 1979, Feed the Children is a Christian charity that provides “hope and resources” to people all over the world. It’s helped half a billion schoolchildren in the United States, and has provided food to almost that many in a number of third world countries. The charity is highly evaluated by the Better Business Bureau and Charity Navigator.
However, the American Institute of Philanthropy gave Feed The Children an ‘F’ grade, for spending less than a quarter of its budget on actual charity. The charity’s own auditors have questioned the importance and value that Feed The Children put on so-called “gifts in kind”, which could mislead donors by giving the appearance the charity is running more efficiently than it really is.
Furthermore, following a leadership dispute, Feed the Children founder Larry Jones was fired by its board of directors over allegations of financial and administrative misdeeds. After thirty years in charge of Feed the Children, Jones has no association with the charity anymore.
2. Raising Malawi
Pop star Madonna opened the Raising Malawi charity in 2006, to help the one million orphans of that country. Initially known as “Raising Malawi For Girls”, the Global Philanthropy Group raised concerns about the nature of the charity’s expenditures (such as a golf course membership), large salaries and the management culture. The executive director resigned, and the charity itself was scrapped four years after its founding.
It was revived in January of 2012, and by the end of the year, claimed to have built 10 schools to help almost 5,000 Malawi orphans. However, Malawi’s president issued a scathing statement on Madonna’s intentions, claiming the singer was “desperately” trying to “generate recognition” by “bullying state officials” and “only [contributing] to the construction of classrooms”, and not actually “building schools”.
3. The Second Mile
In 1977, Jerry Sandusky founded The Second Mile, a charity organization for at-risk children, underprivileged youth, and their parents in Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. In 1990, U.S. President George W. Bush praised the charity, which claimed to serve 100,000 children a year.
In 2012, Sandusky was found guilty of 45 counts of child sexual abuse charges at Penn State, while assistant football coach there. Unsurprisingly, The Second Mile charity suffered – its Angels in Adoption award was rescinded, the president and CEO resigned, and the new management of The Second Mile confirmed that it would close its doors after transferring programs and assets to another charity.
Many charity organizations are not like this. It is important to study the background of an institution first before you get involved in any of their activities and projects.