Tuesday, July 16, 2013

The Business of Disaster Relief

Disaster relief is big business for The Salvation Army.  Do not assume the money you donate to The Salvation Army for a specific disaster will make it to the victims of the disaster.  The money you donate goes into the coffers of The Salvation Army and the organization uses that money as it sees fit.

Read their disaster pleas very carefully.  Those pleas reference specific disasters, such as the disaster in West, Texas, or the Moore, Oklahoma tornado.  The ads ask you to pray for the victims of those disasters.  On the page there is a "donate to The Salvation Army" button.  Do not assume the money you donate will go to the victims of the disasters.  The Salvation Army profits from your donations.  Victims of the disasters never see the money.

The Salvation Army is an $8.8 billion net worth organization.  It owns more than $4 billion in luxury offices, homes for its officers and provides those officers with a better style of living than most people who donate.  The Salvation Army provides its officers with a home, car, medical insurance, a retirement plan, pays all of the officers living expenses, gives them a salary and sends them on luxury vacations with the money you donate, including the money you believe you are donating for disaster relief.

The Salvation Army diverts the money you believe you are donating for disaster relief.  This diversion of funds will continue as the organization runs its deceptive ads, asking for donations you believe will go to disaster victims.  Remember, the ads do not state that your donations will go to disaster victims.  The ads ask you to pray for the victims and donate to The Salvation Army.  

Where do your disaster donations go?  That money goes into The Salvation Army's general fund.  No one really knows how the money is spent, but the organization has one financial issue that will further effect the way it uses your disaster donations in the years to come.  Take a look at its fiscal 2012 annual report.  The Salvation Army owes its retirement plan almost $1.8 billion, which is 67% of the revenue reported by the organization in the annual report.

This liability has grown over the past four years and is going to be a major issue for The Salvation Army in the years to come.  By the organization own admission, the number of officer retirements is growing each year.  In some years, the number of retiring officers retiring exceeds the number of newly commissioned officers.  The organization relies on newly commissioned officers to earn the money to pay its retirees.

Much of the money the Salvation Army receives as disaster donations will be used to pay retirees.  The money you donate by clicking that magic "donate" button on the page with a disaster relief plea for prayers, goes into the organizations general fund.  Victims of disasters never see that money.

You will never see an audited accounting for disaster donations to The Salvation Army.  Example; when the Katrina disaster hit, The Salvation Army finally admitted collecting $295 million from donors who gave to the organization, believing the money would go to the victims of the Katrina disaster.  When pressed for an accounting of those funds, The Salvation Army would only say that it planned to spend about 1/3 of the money on "future" needs of those devastated by the disaster.  What about the other 2/3 of the money collected?  No accounting for that money.

When you do hear The Salvation Army talk about money spent on disaster relief, be skeptical of the way the organization calculates the money it spends.  The Salvation Army has disaster warehouses throughout the United States.  Those warehouses stock donated water, donated food, donated clothing and other donated supplies.  These donated goods cost The Salvation Army nothing.  However, when the organization talks about the money it spends on disasters it includes the market value of those donated goods, even though the donated goods cost The Salvation Army nothing.

If you want to do the most good with your disaster donations, you should look for a disaster relief fund that is set up though a bank in the local disaster area.  Your money will go to the victims.  The Salvation Army will use it to line the pockets of, and improve the lifestyles of, its officers.


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