Inefficient and Sketchy Non Profits / Tzedaka organizations

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    Anyone ever get concerned about certain organizations and tzedakahs that are acting a bit suspiciously? Pulling shtick with certain laws and don’t have a clear mission/issue they are tackling? Perhaps are spending 90 percent of their expenses on just one persons salary? I have a couple in mind, almost all don’t put out their tax returns like they’re supposed to and could be just cash cows for the one or two people running them, and nobody would ever know.



    There was one organization whose mission was to lower yeshiva education costs but since they came to power, yeshiva tuition has increased significantly.


    this is a real concern and hopefully progress is being made
    i know ur not allowed to post links
    darchecha dot substack dot com/p/adding-transparency-to-tzedaka-organizations


    There are a number of websites that provide some review and assessment of the legitimacy and efficiency of charities but they don’t cover a lot of “religious” groups or yiddeshe mosdos. Thus, you really have to know the individuals involved, perform some due diligence and drill down to see if their demonstrated performance resonates with their stated mission.


    There is an organization that sponsors 90% of the sponsored content on the frum websites, they have an address in Lakewood. They were once running a very tragic and heartbreaking story. I reached outto them and asked that I want to help the family directly. They gave me all sorts of stories how the “Gedolim” want the tzedaka channeled through their organization. I became suspicious for their claims and reached out to some big names in Lakewood, none of them ever heard of this organization….


    Yiddish includes the word “gonif”. What else is new?


    i do this for a living and am happy to help – free consulting! you can find me on facebook (messenger) arnie draiman or via my website draiman consulting. i tried to post a link, but i don’t see it went through. i have written on this topic in the jewish press and in many other places.


    Search IRS site for charity form 990, it gives you basic statistics how money is spent. When you have a choice, support people whose work you know and respect. No reason to support “possibly legit” instead of the “best I know”. Same way you probably buy things for yourself


    >>>I have a couple in mind, almost all don’t put out their tax returns like they’re supposed to and could be just cash cows for the one or two people running them.

    If they don’t make their tax returns public how do you have this information about them? How do they keep their tax exempt status?

    yaakov doe

    Aside from the online pleas, I get numerous phone and mail solicitations from tzedakas that are unfamiliar. I limit my contributions to a handful of recognized organizations such as Ezras Torah, established yeshivot and orthodox advocacy organizations.
    Too many organizations pay high salaries and duplicate the work of others, aside from the outright fraudulent ones.


    Don’t blame small organization for their size. Big organizations may have more resources to paint a good picture, including in tax forms. Small organization that you know does good work is better than a national one


    in general, small is good — in my 25+ years of researching non-profits in the states and in israel, 90% of those that get my approval have annual budgets of under $1,000,000 (4,000,000nis) a year. most have much much less. it seems that the larger an operation grows, the less efficient it becomes.


    A lot of small non-profits are “sort of ” sketchy in that the people running them are also deriving their parnassah from them. As long as people (donors in particular) understand this (e.g. a shtiebel in which the Rav runs the shul and gets most of his livelihood from donated money) it is as much an ethical problem as a legal problem since the government expects non-profits to be run by independent boards who hire staff (rather than by staff which recruits a friendly board).

    This is common throughout society (not just Yidden). As long as the person running the non-profit is doing a good job providing services, and sticks to a modest lifestyle, there is no problem.

    The alternative would be to have big, quasi-government, bureaucracies doing the same job, and they would probably be less efficient and less responsive to needs of users (just look as the “non-profit” hospitals with seven-figure salaries for managers).


    When I took the oath as governor, I didn’t take any vows of poverty. LA Governor Richard Leche.
    Same holds true when a ED of a soup kitchen earns a six figure salary.


    soosim > 90% of those that get my approval have annual budgets of under $1,000,000

    not arguing with your conclusion, but this math statement is not good: “most” US businesses are small, that does not mean that most people work for the small businesses. Same here, a better number would be %-age of annual BUDGET that is going through small charities. And also what percentage you approve for each of the sizes.


    Many organizations such as Yeshivos classify themselves as “synagogues” specifically for the purpose of getting out of filing public 990s. If donor would show their disapproval and insist on transparency that would shift the tide.

    You may be very surprised to see the salaries of the staff of some non-profits. Several heimishe mosdos have execs making $400k or more in DECLARED income. This does not include other non-declared income and benefits such as parsonage, trips to Israel etc.

    It is a shame that so many people give tzedakah with just their heart and not the mind as well.


    yes, rocky, you are very correct. many claim a religious exemption from having to file their tax returns publicly. transparency should be a cornerstone of honesty – there should be nothing to hide.


    According to public filings released in 2021, in 2018, one well known tzedaka reported revenue of $65.6 million and expenses of $59.8 million. Are we ok with this?


    the large number by itself is not an issue – the real issue is how they spend it, and what do they keep in the bank. there are so many large non-profits with tens of millions of dollars in cash reserves. and when i ask what is it for, the usual reply i get is “it’s for a rainy day.” so, all during covid they are raising funds and i say to them it is raining, use your cash that you have, and well, they don’t agree, etc. sad.


    soosim, a good point. It is a general question whether people, or communities, should keep endowments – that is save for future problems instead of spending on solving today’s. It seems reasonable for an individual who has means to save something for the future, although some say it is a lack of bitahon. _But_ if you are managing tzedokah that is based on funds donated by others, rather than your own – what is your right to save for future poor instead of today’s? do you not believe that future donors will not give? And especially if someone draws salary from the endowment, this does not look right.

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