Charitable giving, while good with intent, is not always received as expected. Let’s say you and I give to a seemingly worthwhile charity. You may be surprised at who really takes from the charity – frequently, it’s the fundraisers and executives. Oftentimes the fundraisers and executives are one in the same, since many founders will leave the charity to start a consulting and fundraising business to contract with the charity. This is really where it begins to get out of hand.
The Kids Wish Network gives only 2.5 percent of the funds it raises to the kid’s programs. It was ranked the #1 worst charity in the U.S. by the Center for Investigative Reporting and the Tampa Bay Times. Their rankings of the worst charities are based upon the amount of donations paid to professional “for profit” fundraisers. During the past decade, this charity raised over $141 million, but paid 82 percent of that money to fundraisers and 15 percent for administrative expenses. It’s been this way for over 16 years at Kids Wish Network!
The Cancer Fund of America is even worse. It raised almost $88 million and paid $75.4 million, or 86 percent, to fundraisers. Firefighters Charitable Foundation paid 81 percent of its donations to fundraisers, Breast Cancer Relief Foundation used only 2 percent of its receipts for programs, and the list goes on.
So, what are you and I to do when asked for a donation to what appears to be a worthy charity?
The answer is pretty simple. We need to do our own due diligence for information on the charity. I get the exact name of the organization, then type that name into Google and look at the hits. I also look at Guidestar.org and the Center for Investigative Reporting.
To be qualified as a charity, the IRS issues rules. Each year, the charity must file a tax return on form 990, which is a public document. Available at Guidestar.org, and somewhat difficult to read, the 990 gives a list of executive salaries and its administrative expenses.
To operate, most charities will have administrative expenses and naturally have to pay executive salaries—but these costs of operations must be reasonable. My personal guideline is 90 percent of the funds raised should go to the programs, although there may be exceptions. For example, I have to think twice about a program like Wounded Warriors where only 60 percent of the funds go to the programs – but by spending a lot of money on advertising, a lot of money is raised for a very good cause.
This year, make the most of your year-end charitable giving by ensuring that your funds will go to the deserving programs – not the fundraisers and administrators.
Ralph Q. Summerford
Ralph Q. Summerford is the president of Forensic Strategic Solutions. Mr. Summerford has a broad range of forensic expertise, testifying as an expert witness in federal and state courts on matters involving complicated financial transaction, including fraud, economic damages, business valuation, bankruptcy and accounting malpractice.
Asset Tracing – Misappropriation of Assets
FSS investigated the alleged misappropriation of assets by two former employees of a multi-faceted conglomerate.READ FULL CASE STUDY
FSS was hired by a company to investigate whistleblower allegations to the IRS of underreported revenue.READ FULL CASE STUDY
FSS was hired by the bankruptcy trustee to determine if an investment run by a rogue money manager (“the Project”) was a Ponzi scheme and to testify before the bankruptcy court regarding our findings. New investors were promised unusually high rates of return. The payment of accrued interest to short term investors was paid current […]READ FULL CASE STUDY
FSS investigated the allegations of misappropriation of assets from a medical practice amid concerns that the accounting clerk was embezzling funds.READ FULL CASE STUDY
Corruption and Conflicts of Interest
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) is the second largest school district in the country with an annual budget in excess of $11 billion. Mired with problems and a price tag estimated over $200 million, the LAUSD hired FSS to determine the sources and uses of funds for the Belmont Learning Center project. The […]READ FULL CASE STUDY
Conflicts of Interest: Educational Tools for Employers | Kelly J. Todd
Kelly Todd, managing member at Forensic Strategic Solutions, discusses how conflicts of interest can arise in the workplace and challenges associated with conflicts of interests that employers often face. She also discusses educating employees on conflicts and how to detect conflicts.WATCH VIDEO
The Common Denominator of Corruption: Conflicts of Interest | Kelly J. Todd
Kelly Todd, managing member at Forensic Strategic Solutions, discusses the close relationship between conflicts of interest and corruption. She also discusses preventative measures that can be taken to minimize opportunities for conflicts of interest to morph into corruption.WATCH VIDEO
What to do When You Suspect Fraud at Your Organization – II | Kelly J. Todd
Kelly Todd, member in charge of forensic investigations, discusses how to handle the alleged perpetrator, including notifying the perpetrator, conducting an admission-seeking interview and restricting the wrongdoing employee from company access. She also notes the importance of notifying your insurer when you think you might have fraud occurring in your organization.WATCH VIDEO
What to do When You Suspect Fraud at Your Organization – I | Kelly J. Todd
Kelly Todd, member in charge of forensic investigations, discusses the prevalence of fraud in businesses and actions one should take when they suspect fraud in their organization, including assembling a team for the fraud investigation and securing potential evidence.WATCH VIDEO
Employee Fraud Awareness Training | Kelly J. Todd
Kelly Todd, member in charge of forensic investigations, gives fraud prevention tips aligning with the ACFE 2014 Report to the Nations research describing employee fraud awareness training as an extremely effective way to reinforce fraud policies, encourage anonymous tips from whistleblowers and establish compliance.WATCH VIDEO
Fraud in Charitable Non-Profit Organizations | Ralph Q. Summerford
Ralph Summerford, president of Forensic Strategic Solutions, cites recent New York Times statistics to help reveal some reasons for the high frequency of fraud in non-profits, including high turnover, poor management and lack of tax audit enforcement. All of these issues make it increasingly difficult for the IRS and law enforcement to uncover and prosecute […]WATCH VIDEO
Best Practices for Employers: Conflicts of Interest | Kelly J. Todd
In my last blog, I discussed why corruption in the workplace always requires a conflict of interest. Conflicts of interest arise when employees have interests that may make it difficult to maintain one’s duty of loyalty to their company in an objective and effective manner. Quashing all conflicts of interest within businesses would be difficult to conduct; therefore, it is important to know how to reduce the risks inherent in conflicts of interest.READ FULL BLOG
Why Corruption Always Requires a Conflict of Interest | Kelly J. Todd
When it comes to corruption, there is almost always a common denominator: a conflict of interest. A conflict of interest exists when an individual or corporation has the opportunity – real or perceived – to exploit their position for personal or corporate benefit. Corruption occurs when the individual or corporation takes advantage of that opportunity and indeed abuses their position for private gain.READ FULL BLOG
The Give and the Take in Charitable Giving | Ralph Q. Summerford
Charitable giving, while good with intent, is not always received as expected. Let’s say you and I give to a seemingly worthwhile charity. You may be surprised at who really takes from the charity – frequently, it’s the fundraisers and executives. Oftentimes the fundraisers and executives are one in the same, since many founders will leave the charity to start a consulting and fundraising business to contract with the charity. This is really where it begins to get out of hand.READ FULL BLOG
Fraud Suspected in the Workplace? Employers, You Better Read This – Part Two | Kelly J. Todd
When you think of fraud within an organization, a newer employee may be top-of-mind, but according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), seven percent of perpetrators committed fraud during their first year and more than 53 percent had been with their organization for more than five years.READ FULL BLOG
Fraud Suspected in the Workplace? Employers, You Better Read This – Part One | Kelly J. Todd
There’s no way around it—according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, an estimated five percent of annual revenues are lost to financial crime. What do these numbers mean for you? Big or small, public or private – with statistics like these, there’s a good chance your business is more likely than not to fall victim to internal fraud.READ FULL BLOG
A Lesson on Investigating Fraud from A Fictional Investigator | Ralph Q. Summerford
As a frequent speaker on the subject of fraud, people often ask me, “How do you investigate fraud?” My answer is always the same: You look for the anomaly. To me, it sounds so simple until I step back and realize that most people cannot see the anomaly, although it is usually right in front of them.READ FULL BLOG
Identifying Fraud Symptoms: What Really Goes on Between the Balance Sheets? Part II | Kelly J. Todd
Identifying fraud symptoms in financial statements requires observation and recognition. If you don’t look, you’re unlikely to find it. Worse yet, if you do look, are you sure you will recognize the symptoms of fraud?READ FULL BLOG
Identifying Fraud Symptoms: What Really Goes on Between the Balance Sheets? | Kelly J. Todd
Fraud, unlike acts of terror, murder, or bank robbery, is rarely observed. Instead, only symptoms or indicators, most often exhibited through changes in the financial statements, are present.READ FULL BLOG
Careful Out There – Ponzi Schemes are Alive and Well | Ralph Q. Summerford
With all of the publicity that surrounded the Bernard Madoff, Scott Rothstein, ZeekRewards and Allen Stanford Ponzi schemes, among many others, you would think that people would have by now received the message about Ponzi Schemes; how they work and how those investors lose their money.READ FULL BLOG
When Crowdfunding Becomes Crowdfrauding | Leslie P. Littrell
Crowdfunding is the relatively new process of using social media to receive small contributions from many different individual investors.READ FULL BLOG
Know Your ABCs – Serving on Nonprofit Boards | Forensic Strategic Solutions
As professionals, many of us have had or will have the opportunity to serve on the Board of Directors of a nonprofit organization. This can be a rewarding experience and a way to maintain civic involvement and a connection to the community. But what if the nonprofit organization is defrauded by an employee, or worse yet, by the CEO? This event can have serious ramifications, especially if the organization receives government grants, not to mention the effects on those whom the nonprofit benefits.READ FULL BLOG
When Should You Start Looking for Fraud? | Kelly J. Todd
Larger organizations are more likely to experience fraud by an employee’s misuse of influence in a business transaction in order to gain a direct or indirect benefit. Small organizations, however, typically fall victim to the rogue employee who directly steals the organization’s assets or misuses its resources.READ FULL BLOG
Look for the anomaly to find fraud | Ralph Q. Summerford
Events may happen in a person’s life that can lead to an act of desperation. And desperate people may take irrational actions. I am talking about bad economic times, the failure of a business, the loss of a job, divorce, a family member on drugs, disease, children in trouble, criminal acts by a family member […]READ FULL BLOG
Time off to discover fraud | Lindsay H. Gill
Regardless of the time of year, employees will always have reasons to come and go in the office. Vacations, conferences and meetings are a regular part of most employees’ daily schedules. So rather than worrying about the empty chair they leave behind, take advantage of the time they take off to measure efficiency and expose […]READ FULL BLOG
Preventing fraud during the holidays | Lindsay H. Gill
As we discussed in last week’s blog post, there can be more fraud during the holiday season for a variety of reasons. A few quick steps you can take to reduce your vulnerability to fraud include: Be present – The perception of detection is often one of the strongest controls against fraud. Business owners need […]READ FULL BLOG
Why is there more fraud during the holidays? | Lindsay H. Gill
Fraud happens all the time, but the holiday season provides situations that people may try to take advantage of. The “fraud triangle” has three points to it: Need or Greed Opportunity Rationalization During the holidays, we often see changes in two of these points: increased need or greed and increased opportunity. People want to be […]READ FULL BLOG
Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud: Defensive Measures | Ralph Q. Summerford
Now that you’ve gained valuable information from the first and second parts of our educational series, Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud, we offer insight into defensive measures. It is extremely important to understand the necessity of an adequately controlled investigation. The moment embezzlement or fraud is suspected,steps should be taken to mitigate the company’s damages while assuring […]READ FULL BLOG
Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud: What Can Go Wrong? | Ralph Q. Summerford
Welcome to the second installment of our three-part educational series on Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud. Catch up on part one, Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud: Developing An Action Plan. Simply adopting an action plan doesn’t necessarily eliminate the risk altogether. What can go wrong? Many varied problems. The reason unexpected situations arise is because they are unexpected. […]READ FULL BLOG
Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud: Developing An Action Plan | Ralph Q. Summerford
We’d like to introduce our three-part educational series on Guarding Against Embezzlement Fraud. In this first installment, we will discuss preventive measures you can take. The second part will explain how embezzlement cases can bring about unexpected problems, and the third and final part of our series will discuss defensive measures. It’s not something business […]READ FULL BLOG