Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Disabled American Veterans

Today I received a mailing from the Disabled American Veterans.  This group routinely sends out address labels and holiday cards and then requests a donation, and they apparently do quite well with this endeavor.  The money they raise is then supposed to be used to assist disabled veterans here in the United States.

I say "supposed to be used" because I have often heard allegations from veterans stating that the organization does not help vets.  While I can neither prove nor disprove this, I can do a little research on my own.

Disabled American Vets (DAV) is a non-profit organization and as such, they are required by law to file a Form 990 with the IRS every year.  This form must list the salaries of the board members and highest paid employees of the organization.  For years now I have relied on this form to let me know if I should give to a charity or not.  My criteria is quite simple; if the organization is paying exorbitant salaries they don't need my money.

How do I define "exorbitant"?  I define it with a dollar amount.  I don't see that anyone working for a non-profit needs to be paid more than $75,000 annually.  Even in a major city, this salary is more than enough to live on.  Anyone who can't needs to take a class in money management because they're living beyond their means.

DAV does not do well based on my criteria.  The three highest paid members (based on their 2013 990 form, which is the most recent I was able to find) were paid more than $300,000 each.  Christopher Clay was paid the most at $354,139, followed by Barry Jesinoski ($320,055) and Marc Burgess ($319,888).  Of the top ten salaries, seven of them are paid in excess of a quarter of a million dollars per year.  In addition to those already named, the others are Arthur Wilson ($289,761), Joseph Violante ($276,574), Anita Blum ($273,137) and Susan Loth ($272,511).  Rounding out the top ten are Brian Coward ($234,112), Larry Palzin ($130,303) and Joseph Johnston ($117,781).  

These figures are all pulled directly from the Form 990 filed with the IRS for 2013.  Since this document is filed by the organization it is reasonable to assume that the information is accurate.  $2,588,261 that was donated to the organization was used to pay salaries of only ten people.  

I'll use the address stickers, and I might even use the holiday cards, but I will not be sending any money to this organization.  Any organization that would use my contribution to make its board of directors wealthy does not need my support.  Nor does it deserve my support.  An organization like this should be put out of business and I do hope that more people learn of how they spend their money.  Maybe that will help to eradicate this scourge on the public.

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