House Approves Disabled Veterans Amendment, Coin Surcharges to a Troubled Charity?


The U.S. House of Representatives agreed Tuesday to a minor Senate Amendment for H.R. 634, the American Veterans Disabled for Life Commemorative Coin Act. The coin legislation is nearly cemented for approval and signing by President Bush.

When H.R. 634 becomes law, it will require the United States Mint to issue 350,000 $1 silver coins in the year 2010 to commemorate "veterans who became disabled for life while serving in the Armed Forces of the United States."

Coin surcharges – money wasted or used for memorial?

The legislation also mandates a $10 surcharge for each coin sale that would go to the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation, a nonprofit organization whose sole purpose is to raise the funds necessary to build a Memorial.

The silver dollar coin will be for a notable cause, as would a memorial. However, looking closer at the effectiveness of the Disabled Veterans’ LIFE Memorial Foundation in attaining the $65 million plus needed to start the memorial may leave some collectors troubled.

  FYE 12/2005 FYE 12/2006
Contributions $5,606,631 $17,022,708
Total Expenses $7,918,068 $15,568,978

*Table uses Charity Navigator figures, as collected through the IRS

Most disconcerting is that each of these years the foundation has spent the majority of its donated money on professional fundraising fees — 71.1% in FYE 2006 and 62.6% in FYE 2005. As a comparison, the American Red Cross spent 2.5% in 2006 and 3.4% in 2005 on fundraising fees.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates 300,000 of the commemoratives will be sold, transferring $3 million to the memorial foundation in 2012. As things would seem to stand, most of that money could be used on anything but the memorial.

For certain, money can help in gaining recognition. Yet, a charities’ driving purpose should be weighted heavier than anything else. The foundation has used the vast majority of good-hearted donations on fund-raising efforts. Not toward its stated mission. That seems, well… just WRONG.

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