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12-09-06, 10:39 PM #1
Mothers Against Drunk Driving pocketing 81 cents of every dollar to their pockets
People who donate to Mothers Against Drunk Driving are told by the charity that most of the $12 million it raises annually is spent on good works — stopping drunk driving and helping families traumatized by fatal crashes.
But a Star investigation reveals most of the high-profile charity's money is spent on fundraising and administration, leaving only about 19 cents of each donor dollar for charitable works.
MADD chief executive officer Andrew Murie defends the expenses, saying the paid telemarketers and door-knockers are actually performing good works because they educate the public as they ask for cash. That's a defence Canada's top charity regulator rejects.
The controversy over squandered millions has many MADD Canada volunteers — typically people whose relative or friend was killed or injured by a drunk driver — calling for the charity to clean up its act.
"These are exorbitant costs," said Sue Storey, whose mother was killed and father injured when their car was hit by a drunk driver in 1999. Storey is the co-founder of MADD's Dufferin chapter. "I feel like I have been let down."
Judy Gerrard Simmons, a former MADD board member and local chapter president, said the claims from MADD's head office are misleading. "This is the public's money. They have a right to know where it really goes," said Gerrard Simmons, whose 15-year-old daughter and first husband were killed by a drunk driver in 1986.
"All of these millions of dollars roll in to MADD because the public has such a heart. The money comes in because of the deaths of our daughters, sons, husbands and wives," said Gerrard Simmons.
She and Storey are two of thousands of volunteers who counsel families victimized by drunk driving. They find it offensive that MADD raises so much money, only to have most of it stay with three paid fundraising companies. Storey said the charity's backbone is its counselling and advocacy work, which is done by unpaid volunteers with personal knowledge of the tragedies too many drinks and a car can cause.
For years MADD has been claiming it spends donor money well — fundraising pitches say "83.6 per cent of your donation is spent directly on MADD Canada programs." When the Star obtained MADD's financial statements, it was clear that millions of dollars in payments to the fundraising firms made up a big chunk of its charitable programs.
Ironically, the Star found, the person who does not donate gets the most "public awareness" because the fundraiser continues providing information.
In 2003, MADD was cautioned by the Charities Directorate for confusing fundraising and charitable works following an audit.
"(MADD) made incorrect allocations of expenditures between those incurred of a fundraising nature from those funds spent on charitable activities," reads a letter to Murie from the directorate. It notes that charitable programs do not include "purely fundraising expenses such as door-to-door, direct mail and telemarketing fees."
Murie said that after the audit, MADD worked to "enhance the accountability of our expense allocations." He said they developed the "word count" method which he maintains was approved by the regulator.
Charity regulator Tromp said this accounting method is not approved. "We don't go by words," Tromp said, adding charities must carefully distinguish their good works from their fundraising campaigns. Tromp said she was speaking about charities in general and not commenting on MADD.
MADD's financials came to light as part of a Star investigation into charity in Canada. It is unclear how many charities use contracted fundraisers because not all charities report this information to the government. Of the 800 charities that currently report using contracted fundraisers, MADD raises the most by this means and leaves the most in the fundraiser's coffers.
MADD's operations have led to a significant war chest, the Star found. Financial statements show the charity has $5.3 million in cash and investments. This is at odds with government strategy on charity which typically requires a group to spend most of its money on its cause.
There's no doubt MADD Canada does good work. The Star interviewed a dozen leading volunteers (many of them current or past chapter presidents) and heard stories of how they rush to the aid of the newly bereaved, drawing on their own experiences to provide comfort and guidance. At the community chapter level, volunteers counsel the bereaved, monitor impaired driving court cases and provide pamphlets to the public. MADD also receives a government grant it uses to help train police on how to notify victims' families; it monitors drunk driving court cases; and provides pamphlets on various issues to the public.
Another source of income for MADD is a multimedia presentation on the dangers of drinking and driving it charges high schools to view. Schools pay about $800 per showing. The financial statements show it costs MADD about $650,000 a year to mount the presentations, and it makes about $100,000 profit each year from the school fees.
Nancy Codlin of MADD's Durham Region chapter lost her 18-year-old niece to a drunk driver six years ago and frequently helps counsel new victims.
But she is distressed at the fundraising and the lack of response from Murie and MADD's board to their complaints. After volunteers raised the issue last spring at a highly emotional meeting, complaint letters were sent to the board. But Codlin and others interviewed say the board did not properly respond.
In a letter from MADD chair Senator Marjory LeBreton earlier this year, chapter leaders were told only that MADD's accounting method for its fundraising expense (calling it programs and services) was approved by the board and therefore correct.
LeBreton, who is leader of the Conservative government in the Senate, lost her daughter and grandson 10 years ago in a drunk driving accident. She would not agree to an interview for this story, but sent an email encouraging the Star to speak to CEO Murie.
LeBreton wrote: "I am so proud of MADD's success on a number of fronts — the highly successful public awareness campaigns; the extensive work with federal, provincial and territorial lawmakers to strengthen our laws; and most significantly, the heartbreaking but crucial work in support of the victims of these senseless criminal acts."
Despite numerous requests over the past month, Murie would not agree to an interview, but accepted questions by email.
The CEO would not reveal his salary or that of other staff, saying it is personal information. Volunteers have been seeking an accounting of the $2 million-plus salary and administrative expenses at the charity's Oakville head office.
12-09-06, 10:48 PM #2
MADD is a scam.
12-09-06, 10:59 PM #3
12-10-06, 10:13 PM #4
12-11-06, 01:33 AM #5There are only two kinds of real justice left: street and poetic...
Canada, huh? Almost made it...
*DISCLAIMER*The opinions expressed here are my own delusions. My employer administraton would at best shake their heads and sigh; or at worst severely repudiate the content of these posts, should it ever manage to appear on their radar.
12-11-06, 04:06 AM #6
Guess this makes MADD about like every other major charity these days
12-11-06, 09:50 AM #7
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