After hearing the radio commercial for Kars4Kids on AM News Radio 780 in Chicago about 6,000 times, I knew I had to create a review for these guys. They obviously have the budget to run an obsessive amount of radio commercials, but in my Kars4Kids review, I analyzed exactly how much money goes to charity. Well, at least I tried to. As you’ll see, their transparency leaves a bit to be desired.
How The Kars4Kids Cash Funnel Works
On their website, Kars4Kids is very generic about where the money actually goes. On the bottom of the website, there is a line that says, “your donation will benefit Kars4Kids, a d/b/a of Joy for Our Youth.” Say what?! Who’s that? Come to find out, Joy for Our Youth is an organization dedicated to addressing the educational, material, and emotional needs of disadvantaged Jewish children and their families. Ok then, so let’s keep following the money trail…
When you donate your car to Kars4Kids, you might think they use the donation to promote their own causes. But, they don’t. They actually take the funds and then donate to a New Jersey organization called Oorah Inc. that provides religious-based services to Orthodox Jewish children. Basically, they enroll children who do not practice the Jewish faith into day camps to try and convert them. In 2009, both Oregon and Washington fined Kars4Kids $65,000 each, for failing to mention their religious connections. Pennsylvania also fined JOY $40,000 for their misleading practices.
As we continue following the money trail, we find ourselves scratching our heads about how Kars4Kids lost 5 million dollars in real estate investments. Ummm…. what?
Kars4… Real Estate?
Did you know Kars4Kids has lost 5 million dollars in botch real estate investments? This news investigation blew it wide open.
So, get this. In 2010, Kars4Kids lost over 5 million in botched real estate investments and donated about 6 million teaching kids about the Jewish faith?!? How do they get away with this stuff?
Another unfortunate reality is how the funds seem to get diluted as they change hands. Tax statements show that Joy for Our Youth raised $24 million in 2009, spending $7 million on advertising and $12.7 million for a grant to Oorah. However, Oorah spent $6.5 million on its programs that year, according to tax returns. Another $3.5 million went to fundraising and administration, and $5.4 million was not disbursed.
Kars4Kids & Oorah, Inc. Own Many Organizations
Just because you hear the Kars4Kids jingle all the time, that doesn’t mean this is the only organization JOY and Oorah have that entices people to donate their cars. This isn’t necessarily a good or bad thing, just something to be aware of. Here are some of their other websites:
Difficult Financial Records To Inspect
One of the most disturbing aspects of Kars4Kids is the lack of readily available financial statements. Since Kars4Kids doesn’t even exist as far as the IRS is concerned, we need to investigate JOY and Oorah. Unfortunately, these organizations are not very forthcoming with their financial statements, and so, this leaves quite a bit to be desired.
Your “Free Vacation Voucher” Isn’t Free… And Yes, It’s A Timeshare Thing
Kars4Kids also got into a bit of trouble because they advertise that you get a free 3 day / 2 night vacation voucher if you donate your car to them. Unfortunately, the free vacation is nothing more than a timeshare trip. It’s no better (or worse) than the random “FREE VACATION!” postcards you get in the mail. Oh, except this one will cause you $50 (refundable) and it does not include airfair. So, not only is your free vacation a timeshare marketing ploy, but it’s not even free as they advertise. But ok, we can let this one slide I suppose, especially since they are mostly upfront about this on their own website.
About Their Radio Advertising
If you’ve heard the Kars4Kids jingle on the radio, chances are it will remain stuck in your head until the day you die. Not only is it catchy, but it works. According to this article, back in 2005 Kars4Kids did not have any radio commercials. In that year, their revenue was $5.6 million. In 2009, however, they began running radio ads and had a revenue of $24.6 million.
My Final Thoughts About Kars4Kids
While performing research for this Kars4Kids review, I was initially unbiased. I didn’t know anything about them or where their money went, but I was anxious to find out what kids were being helped through their car donations. What I found were unreliable financial records, various fines, unethical practices, and deception. It isn’t a bad thing that they have religious affiliations. Religious groups are allowed to have their own charities and promote faith, but it’s the deception that really bothers me. They might not try to hide their religious connections, but they are hardly forthcoming about it, either. I presume they do this because if they were too public about their religious connections, many people might find alternative places to donate and that would hurt their bottom line.
Do I recommend the Kars4Kids car donation program? I personally wouldn’t use them. Even if I wanted to donate to a religious cause, I am not happy about the lack of financial records or how much money actually reaches children. However, if you are of Jewish faith or wish to help spread Jewish based education throughout the World by teaching children about the religion, this may be a charity you want to consider.
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