Monday, October 29, 2007

Roger Chapin, Profiteer

An article in the September 3, 2007, Forbes Magazine was pointed out to me, a follow-up to an article last December. Both were about Roger Chapin, a self-described "nonprofit entrepreneur" who runs, and has run, a large number of nonprofit organizations. And it appears they're not quite the charitable organizations they claim to be.

There's a strong hint of this early in the December article:

Chapin's biggest venture is Help Hospitalized Veterans, a Winchester, Calif. charity that hauled in donations of $71 million for the year ended in July. HHV's primary mission, as stated on its Web home page: providing free therapeutic arts-and-crafts kits to GIs recovering from injuries. The hobby sets are evidently much appreciated by these veterans. But of every dollar spent in the fiscal year only nine cents went for the kits, plus another five cents for associated overhead and for counselors to visit hospitals and nursing homes.
47¢ out of every $1 Help Hospitalized Veterans raised went to sending junk mail asking for donations.

Another Chapin nonprofit, the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation, says its function is "to help our severely wounded and disabled" soldiers from Middle East strife "rebuild their lives." Yet nearly 80% of the $26 million spent in 2006 by the Coalition "represented the purported value of 1.5 million calling cards given to uninjured soldiers serving in the Middle East. These cards allowed the soldiers to check sports scores back home but couldn't be used to call, say, family. The cards were donated by ez Scores, of Silver Spring, Md." [emphasis added]

Those calling cards highlight another problem in these linked nonprofits — one that could be considered an issue of creative accounting. When ez Scores contributed the calling cards to Help Hospitalized Veterans, they were counted as a contribution there. When HHV passed them to the Coalition to Salute America's Heroes Foundation, they were counted as supporting HHV's mission and as a contribution to the Coalition, thus improving the statistics for both groups with a paper transfer between groups controlled by the same individual. If the calling cards are counted only for the Coalition, who actually gave them to (uninjured) soldiers, then HHV had contributions of $51 million and that 47¢ out of every $1 that went to junk mail advertising (mentioned above) is really 67¢ out of every $1 raised.

The one thing Roger Chapin's nonprofit organizations are good at is supporting Roger Chapin. He and his wife got just under a half million dollars in total compensation from Help Hospitalized Veterans in 2005, and well over that in 2006. And that's not counting hundreds of thousands of dollars in "unreimbursed expenses" and a $445,000 condo near Washington, DC. And Lord knows what else. That means what Help Hospitalized Veterans has really done is (1) generate lots of junk mail, (2) support Roger Chapin's lavish lifestyle, and (3) mask these with a lot of creative accounting and pseudo-legal manipulations.

I don't like going with something based on a single source, even a good source like Forbes Magazine, but it looks to me like this is a man who is using America's soldiers — including severely wounded soldiers — for his own profit.


Anonymous said...

You have no idea just how much deeper this scams and others like it really are... when will Congress investigate him and other groups profiting from our wounded? Nice post.

Anonymous said...

The saddest part of all this is how you all believe what you read in the papers. Do your research. I think Mr. Chapin is a patriot who honestly cares about this country and the men and women who stand to defend it.

Anonymous said...

I think you're on his payroll.

Anonymous said...

I was a guest at the recent Road to Recovery Conference held by the Coalition To Support America's Heroes, an organization founded by Roger Chapin.

Attendance for 150 wounded vets and their families was underwritten by the Coalition. All types of assistance was provided: mental and physical therapy, financial assistance, job and career, housing, etc., etc.

This is certainly more than any of Roger Chapin's critics have done. How sad it is that those who care and actually do something are so easily skewered by those who do nothing at all.

My advice: if you don't like how you think something is being done, you have the right and the opportunity to go out and do it better.


Anonymous said...

TRIROK -- many of us were trying to do better. Trying to figure out where all the money was going. It wasn't being spent on the Vets. Those of us who questioned the "accouting" and the ridiculous costs associated with direct mail fundraising (many, many ineffeciencies) were subsequently fired. The Road to Recovery, was no doubt a great event that helped many, but it was supposed to have helped twice as many. Where did the money go? Money donated by hard working, good hearted Americans. That is the point here -- If you are raising money on behalf of the Vets (or any other group for that matter), you have an obligation to run your operation effeciently. It is very simple.....the more effecient you operate.....the more $$$ can be allocated to actually helping the Vets. Why is this so hard for people to understand?

Anonymous said...

A bit of information regarding EZ Scores for you...their CEO, Chris O'Donnell, is being investigated by the Maryland State's Attorney General for securities fraud. He has taken hundreds of thousands of dollars from investors and closed down the business and no one knows where the money went.