Transparency is a big deal when it comes to determining the overall quality of a charity or a commercial fundraising organization. Some organizations are highly transparent, like Auto-Donation.com, who makes it very clear on their homepage that they’re the car donation tool for Insurance Auto Auctions Donation Division, a reputable company that consistently provides charities with a high percentage of the proceeds from the sale of donated vehicles.
On the other side of the coin are organizations whose true identities are so tangled and convoluted that it takes hours to slog through their slime trails to learn anything pertinent about them. And that’s why I can tell you right off the bat that donating your car to CarsForBreastCancer isn’t going to make even a quark-sized difference in the fight against this terrible disease.
CarsForBreastCancer is another entity dreamed up by the GIV Foundation, aka Growing in Voices. You may remember is organization from my Cars for U.S. Troops review, which ended up being one of my longest due to the wild goose chases I was sent on in my attempt to find any relevant information about this organization. The GIV Foundation is one of the messiest entities I’ve ever had the pleasure of trying to track down. They’re the Sybil of car donation organizations. If companies could be diagnosed with dissociative identity disorder, The GIV Foundation would be the poster child.
The Multiple Personalities of The GIV Foundation
The GIV Foundation is actually registered as Growing in Voices on Guidestar. I’m not even going to tell you how long it took me to track that information down when I first encountered this organization, but I should be awarded some kind of Investigative Hero medal for it. As I followed the GIV Foundation’s slime trail, I came across an astonishing number of names, phone numbers, website URLs, and physical addresses associated with this organization.
These are some of the websites associated with the GIV Foundation:
- Giv-usa.org is the URL listed on their 2009 Form 990, which leads to FourSquare, a hosting company.
- Giv1car.org is the URL listed on the Washington Secretary of State website, and it leads to Millennial Systems, Inc., another hosting site.
- Theworldneedsmore.net is the URL listed on the GIV Foundation’s Twitter account (@WorldNeedsMore,) which was last updated in 2012. This URL leads to a general “website not available” message.
- Cardonationsforbreastcancer.org is the URL listed in a negative review of CarsForBreastCancer, and it leads to the CFBC website. Let this consumer’s review serve as a cautionary tale for what may happen if you take a charitable organization’s word for it!
And these are some of the phone numbers I came across in my attempt to find out more about The GIV Foundation:
- 888-910-2765 is the number listed on the CarsForBreastCancer website, which leads you to The Vehicle Donation Center, about which I recently wrote a two-star review.
- 800-558-8083 is another number listed on the CarsForBreastCancer site, which they welcome you to call if you have any questions. This number leads to a series of beeps, blips, crackles, and fax machine tones.
- 888-332-4083 is the number listed for “The Breast Cancer GIV Foundation,” one of the many monikers I stumbled upon for The GIV Foundation. This phone number is answered, “Cars for Breast Cancer, are you donating a car today?” When I said I had a few questions, the guy on the other end told me he’d call me right back, and then hung up. Sure enough, about 10 seconds later, my phone rang, and the number calling was 949-655-5179. When I asked the gentleman what percentage of the proceeds are sent along to charities, he said it “depends on the donation.” He was unable to elaborate.
- 888-508-6140 is the number listed on the GIV Foundation’s website, and it’s answered, “Give one car for Breast Cancer, can you hold?”
- 888-261-8497 is the number listed on The Yellow Pages website. A recording tells you to press “1” for the “Breast Cancer GIV Foundation,” and when I pressed “1,” there was no answer.
- 949-467-9071 is listed on the Growing in Voices 2009 IRS Form 990 and leads to a medical supply store.
- 949-933-6560 is the number listed for the GIV Foundation on the Washington Secretary of State’s website. This phone number reaches a private residence.
The GIV Foundation on Guidestar
The GIV Foundation doesn’t participate in Guidestar’s Exchange Program, and the most recent Form 990 on file is from 2009.
IRS Form 990 is the one nonprofits file their taxes. One of the sections on this form breaks down a charity’s spending into three categories: Programming, which is the actual work the charity does to promote its mission; Administration, which encompasses overhead costs like rent, salaries, and ballpoint pens; and Fundraising, which are the costs associated with trying to get people to donate to the charity. A highly efficient charity is one that puts at least 75 percent toward programming, with the remaining 25 percent going toward administrative and fundraising costs.
In 2009, Growing in Voices filed a Form 990 EZ, which doesn’t break out the percentage of funds that were put toward each category. But it does show that Growing in Voices received $41,880 in contributions, gifts, and grants and paid out $1,600 to the charities they supposedly support, which is the amount that would fall under “Programming.” This means that Growing in Voices passed along about 3.8 percent of its funds to charity in 2009.
The GIV Foundation on the Washington Secretary of State Website
Some states require charities that solicit funds in the state to file paperwork that shows their annual revenue and the amount that went toward programs.
For the fiscal year ending in December 2013, The GIV Foundation’s revenue was $5,703,745. They sent $386,311 on to charities. Their total expenses for the year were $5,656,653. That adds up to a horrifically low seven percent. Seven percent! That’s a far cry from the expectation that 75 percent of funds should go toward programming.
The Bottom Line for The GIV Foundation
Stay far, far away from The GIV Foundation, CarsForBreastCancer, CarsForU.S.Troops, Growing in Voices, and any other entity affiliated with them. I never did figure out exactly what they’re up to, but charitable giving certainly isn’t a high priority for this highly questionable organization.
The GIV Foundation has received our one star rating – our lowest possible rating.