National Veterans Service Fund

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THE WORST CHARITIES, RANKED BY MONEY BLOWN ON SOLICITING COSTS

The article goes on to say:

National Veterans Service Fund notes on its website that “war does not end on the battlefield.” Instead, the site goes on to say, American veterans and their families have been left without the help they need to overcome critical health and psychological problems at home.

National Veterans Service Fund says it offers guidance to veterans to help them qualify for aid they otherwise would go without. It also touts the “limited medical assistance” the charity hands out to needy veterans.

Those promises have helped persuade donors contacted over the phone and in mailers to give $70 million over the past decade. The for-profit solicitors paid to raise that money kept more than half. On average, the charity gave assistance it valued at about $500,000 a year to needy vets.

The percent going to professional solicitors has increased over time. In 2011, the charity raised about $9 million and solicitors kept nearly 82 percent of the total.

Philip Kraft, president of National Veterans Service Fund, said his charity buys wheelchairs, provides grocery store gift cards and pays rent for needy veterans. But no details of the grants are reported in any of the charity’s annual IRS filings, which only refer to spending on “veterans assistance and relief.”

The only cash grant mentioned in the charity’s 2011 IRS filing is a $60,000 donation to a children’s birth defect group in Orlando.

Betty Mekdeci, the Florida charity’s president, said the grant was a huge help.

“I’m sure Phil would be happy as a clam if he could put up a website and the money would roll in,”Mekdeci said. “The problem lies with the public. If they would give in the most cost-effective way, these problems wouldn’t exist.”

Kraft, who was paid $118,800 in 2011, defended his use of outside solicitors to raise money for National Veterans Service Fund. “To blame a charity for the price charged by our fundraisers is like blaming a driver for the price of gas,” he said.

Kraft said his charity has one other full-time employee and three part-timers to help veterans across the nation. Despite the millions raised in its name, the charity does not encourage needy veterans to apply for aid on its website. It can’t afford to, Kraft said.

“If we put specific stuff on our website, there’d be a gold rush,” Kraft said. “We’d be out of business in a week.”

Instead, it relies on social workers to suggest worthy recipients and sees itself as helper of last resort, said Kraft, who has headed the group since 1989.

“We have to have someone on their (the veterans’) end to ensure that they have been to all the other resources in their area, with names and reasons for rejection, before we can even think about stepping in to assist,” Kraft said.