Top 10 Charities with the Highest Donor Dependency


We have recently been intrigued by the realization that a large percentage of donations that citizens make do not actually go to fund the direct efforts of the charities that receive the donations. Some of this is due to the fact that charities which receive funding in addition to private donations have a variety of obligations, whereas those charities funded largely by private donations are accountable to their donors for doing what they promise to do. Below are the top ten charities that are largely donor dependent.

10. Navy SEAL Foundation


Founded in 2000, but greatly expanded as recently as 2011, the Navy SEAL Foundation cares for those who serve in the Naval Special Warfare Community and their families.  Just as the SEALs and their counterparts in other branches are skilled at rapid response to emergencies, so too is the aim of this foundation and its volunteers.  Money donated to this fund goes directly to military personnel or to their families to help with many circumstances where it is needed. These circumstances include education, tragedy assistance, and survivor support. One goal of this foundation is to ensure future generations remember, respect, and respond to those who have served in war by protecting and promoting the legacy of the SEALs and other special operations personnel, who have been increasingly called into service since the events of September 11, 2001. This goal is being boosted by the support of some prominent people. In June of 2014, former Charlotte goalkeeper, Jon Busch, took part in raising money for the foundation, hoping to bring more awareness to heroes and their families in need.

9. Greater Kalamazoo United Way


The name is amusing, but the Greater Kalamazoo United Way is anything but silly. This regional division of the United Way focuses especially on Kalamazoo County and the Battle Creek area of Michigan. Its mission is to focus on improving education for children, preparing adults for careers and providing them with opportunities, not just jobs, and general health and safety. They have taken health to mean providing safe living conditions as well as a healthy diet and medical care. This organization receives the highest accountability and transparency scores from the Charity Navigator, which evaluates charities on a variety of factors. The foundation’s own website contains up to date information on how and where the donations it receives are spent. The latest graph shows that 52% goes to grants and agencies, and all but 14% also go to work, with that 14% used for fundraising and administrative purposes.

8. Feed My Starving Children


We don’t believe any charity has a more direct name – no need to google the aim of their mission.  This is one of the older charities on the list, founded in 1987.  It is a Christian charity that tries to fulfill the request of Christ to feed the hungry.  Volunteers, both young and old, come together to hand-pack meals that have been specially designed to benefit malnourished children.  These meals are then shipped to more than 70 countries across the globe to fight child malnourishment and hunger. Feed My Starving Children doesn’t pack just any old canned goods. They have taken care packages to a whole new level. In 1993 scientists and food manufacturers teamed up to formulate a soy casserole that would pack a nutritional punch suitable for children about 6 years of age.  This has since been trademarked as MannaPack Rice and is a hallmark of the charity’s feeding program.

7. Cure Alzheimer’s Fund


Let’s see if we can remember what this charity is all about. Firstly, it is okay to confuse this fund with the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Fund, because they are, in fact, the same organization. This charity’s mission is solely focused on the prevention, slowing, and reversal of Alzheimer’s. One-hundred percent of donations to this organization goes directly to research that hopes to achieve those three goals. Since its founding, that has amounted to a whopping total of 22 million dollars! They are able to use 100% of donations for the intended cause, because all other costs, such as administration, is underwritten by the organization’s founders.  The accountability and transparency of this fund is validated by the endorsement and high ratings it receives from the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, and the Independent Charities of America. In June of this year, a Senate Subcommittee supplemented donations by allocating an additional one-hundred million to the fund’s research efforts.

6. The Robin Hood Foundation


Another charity with a clever name. Like Robin Hood, this charity does take from the rich and give to the poor in a sense. New York City boasts some of the world’s most expensive real estate and some of the world’s wealthiest people live and work in those buildings. Whether for PR or altruistic reasons, wealthy New Yorkers love to throw parties to fund worthy causes. The Robin Hood Foundation has taken advantage of this and raises money for the poorest of New Yorkers.  Its primary mission is to fight poverty in New York City. One-hundred percent of donations go directly to funding soup kitchens, homeless shelters, job training programs, and other services the poor are in need of. The Robin Hood Foundation’s own Board of Directors personally see to it that all donations are used for the mission by paying out of their own pockets all costs related to administration, fund-raising, and valuations.  A May fundraiser attracted the likes of Bruno Mars and Jeff Bezos, demonstrating this charities universal appeal.

5. Air Warrior Courage Foundation


Long gone is the era of disrespect toward the American military and its soldiers.  At number 5, the Air Warrior Courage Foundation is the second donor-dependent charity to make this list.  This foundation has been around since the Vietnam War, when it was a much smaller organization known as the Red River Valley Fighter Pilots Association. They serve not only veterans, but their dependents and survivors as well. There are numerous programs aimed at helping in a variety of ways, but the foundation also carries out ad hoc missions regularly.  Recently, several veterans connected with the charity climbed Mt. Kilimanjaro, Africa’s highest peak.  The goal of this mission was to climb a real mountain in thanks and reverence to those vets who climb mountains of their own such as disability, PTSD, and death in combat. It isn’t all morbidity and reverence, these guys have fun too. A July benefit is scheduled in Enid, Oklahoma that will raise money by featuring an Elvis impersonator.

4. Step Up for Students


The southern United States is not known for its income equality or quality of education. John Kirtley, a Tampa venture capitalist realized this back in the late 1990s and decided that he would personally do something to help make education available to students who required assistance. He created a private fund for scholarships for children in Florida in grades K-8.  In just three months, the organization, which had an impressive 750 scholarships funded, received over 12,000 applications. Today, thanks to Kirtley’s efforts and those of the Florida Legislature, the charity now serves children in grades K-12 by supplying scholarships to a school of their choice, in or out of district, which serves their needs based on income and special needs as well. This year Step Up for Students and Southern Wine and Spirits celebrate five years of partnership with a continued pledge of support from the Southern Wine and Spirits.

3. The Billings Food Bank


In Billings Montana, hunger is a problem for many people. The Billings Food Bank is a community centered food bank that supplies all who come to their doors with groceries and other items necessary to life.  Although many of the products are donated, the food bank has created its own community garden to be fully operation this year. Volunteers can take part by donating plants, tending the garden, and harvesting the crop, which will then be used to stock the food bank.  This food bank believes in community as a whole, not just feeding the hungry. Therefore, their efforts, like the garden involve the community to a great extent.  They also reach out to other charities in the local community. Such partnerships have led to collecting school supplies for the local kids and funding activities for the Boys and Girls Club. What most donors look forward to each year is the annual Mardi Gras style fundraiser to raise funds through revelry and the crowning of a King and Queen.

2. Books for Africa


As its website begins, Books for Africa is ‘a simple organization.’ Their mission is to supply Africa’s children with books and they have been very successful.  Currently, they are the continent’s largest supplier of books, including commercial enterprises.  In our increasingly technology dependent world, the organization has also found it necessary to begin to ship computers to those in need in Africa, an isolated continent that could certainly benefit from more global access. Shipping books is a costly business, so donations are very important to Books for Africa. The need for books in education is undisputed, but there is a true ‘famine of books’ according to Aid for Africa, a website promoting charities that support continent. The former Secretary-General of the U.N., Kofi Annan, a native of Africa, when speaking of the charity said, “For us, literacy is quite simply the bridge from misery to hope.”

1. Midwest Food Bank


This large food bank, based out of Indiana, is a faith-based, but non-denominational, charity that focuses on the logistics and coordination of relief for the hungry. They do not just serve the Midwest, but have also established warehouses in the Southern United States.  Unlike a food pantry, this organization collects the donated items in warehouses and then acts as a distribution center, catering to small food banks and pantries. They are also able to respond to national and international disasters by facilitating coordination between relief agencies. Their most recent international efforts aided with relief for survivors of the typhoon that struck the Philippines in 2013. In June of this year, it was reported that the Midwest Food Bank received over 10,000 gallons of donated milk by Prairie Farms, which was very helpful, because milk can be one of the most difficult items for families to purchase.

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