Make A Wish Car Donation Reviews #charitable #gifts


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Make A Wish Car Donation Review


Nothing is more heartbreaking than a child with a life threatening medical condition. While scores of highly reputable nonprofit organizations work tirelessly to fund medical research for childhood illnesses, provide families with lodging during hospital stays far from home, and help advocate for families with sick kids, there s one charity that focuses solely on bringing joy to terminally ill children and their families.

We ve all heard of Make-a-Wish and basked in the bittersweet stories of the dearest desires they fulfill for sick kids, from meeting favorite celebrities and taking unforgettable trips to going on shopping sprees and, in the case of a 6 year old boy, working in a pickle factory. How sweet is that?

Founded in 1980 in Phoenix, Ariz. Make-a-Wish now has 61 local chapters in the United States, which rely entirely on the kindness of individuals and corporate donors to fund their work. In October of 2014, Make-a-Wish America fulfilled its 250,000th wish.

Make-a-Wish is a leading charity in the U.S. They meet all 20 standards set forth by the Better Business Bureau s Wise Giving Alliance. and they score 3 out of 4 stars on Charity Navigator. a highly reputable charity watchdog group, only missing the fourth star because while a full 73 percent of Make-a-Wish funds go toward their fulfilling wishes, that number is just 2 percentage points shy of being considered highly efficient.

Car Donations Help Fund Charities

Now, car donations to charity are big business in the U.S. to the tune of 250,000 cars a year donated for a combined $650 million deduction in taxes. While many charities accept direct donations, others use an intermediary organization.

Some of these intermediary organizations are highly reputable, passing on 75 percent or more of the proceeds of the vehicle s sale to the charity. Less reputable middlemen may keep as much as 50 percent. If they keep much more than 50 percent, you should run in the other direction, unless you want to make some rich, stogie-smoking fat cat even fatter.

Now, you would think that a highly rated charity would use a squeaky-clean car donation middleman, right? Yeah, I would, too. Turns out we were both wrong.

Review of Wheels for Wishes

Alright, lace up your running shoes and try to keep up here.

Wheels for Wishes is a nonprofit intermediary organization that Make-a-Wish America uses to handle car donations, with the proceeds of the sales of the vehicles ostensibly going to benefit local Make-a-Wish chapters.

I started my research with the Better Business Bureau, which reports, This charitable organization either has not responded to written BBB requests for information or has declined to be evaluated in relation to BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Next, I headed over to Charity Navigator, but my search returned zero results.

Running into brick walls at every subsequent turn, I gave up on trying to find trustworthy ratings or reviews for Wheels for Wishes and logged into my free account at Guidestar. a nonprofit organization that collects and disseminates information on every single nonprofit organization registered with the IRS, including copies of each organization s IRS Form 990, which nonprofits are required to file every year.

Wheels for Wishes is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit under the name Car Donation Foundation. Now, keep in mind that I m no tax expert, but here s what I got from spending the better part of the afternoon poring over Car Donation Foundation s Form 990 from 2012, the most recent year on file with Guidestar:

In 2012, Car Donation Foundation brought in total revenue of $25,724,026, all of it from the proceeds of the sales of 33,913 donated cars. They paid out $4,731,118 to 33 separate Make-a-Wish chapters, accounting for 18 percent of the revenue.

But what about the remaining 82 percent? Well, you have to pay your officers, right? Part 7 of Form 990 requires that nonprofits list the highest compensated employees, as well as state the average number of hours each works per week.

Car Donation Foundation President Bill Bigley puts in about 30 hours a week. Compensation? $265,261. Vice President Randy Heiligman averages 10 hours a week: $266,599. Randy s wife Roberta is the secretary who, like her husband, averages 10 hours a week: $117,169.

Wait what? Randy and Roberta together work 20 hours a week and make a combined $381,768 a year? Let s break that down, just for fun: that s $31,814 a month, or $7,953.50 a week, or $397.68 an hour. That s right. These people make $397.68 PER HOUR. Compare that to the $113 per hour on average pulled down by anesthesiologists, the highest paid workers in the U.S.. and you ll wonder why you didn t just skip those 12 gruelling years of medical school and start a nonprofit.

So the compensation of the three officers is $649,029 and is included in one of the amounts below, which together add up to the year s revenue minus the $4,731,118 passed on to Make-a-Wish:

  • Fees for management services (non employees): $3,324,294
  • Professional fundraising services: $4,731,114
  • Other fundraising expenses, which are identified later on as seller fees: $3,562,073.
  • Advertising and promotion: $9,375,427.

Now, here s where it gets interesting. On Part I of Schedule L, Business Transactions Involving Interested Persons, we see that Car Donation Foundation paid out admin commision fees to Metro Metals Corp. in the amount of $1,485,951 and to National Fundraising Management in the amount of $4,044,942.
Metro Metals Corp. is a scrap auto recycling plant in St. Paul, Minnesota. Its owner? William Bigley. Its president? Randy Heiligman.

But wait! It gets better! Car Donation Foundation retains the services of National Fundraising Management Inc. whose co-directors are you guessed it: Bill Bigley and Randy Heiligman !

But hold on, it s not over. Under Supplemental Information on Schedule L, Part II, it s noted, This organization uses a third-party auction house to sell the vehicles that are donated.

Well, guess who s a principal at Metro Auto Auctions, the Twin Cities largest indoor public vehicle auction facility, which specializes in the sale of donated vehicles on behalf of local charities, including ARC, Make-a-Wish, and Disabled American Veterans? Go on, humor me.

Yes! Bill Bigley!

So let s do a quick recap: You donate your car to Make-a-Wish through Wheels for Wishes, and it sells for scrap or at auction for $500. Make-a-Wish gets $90. The remaining $410, minus the fees and costs related to processing, goes to:

  • Bill and Randy s for-profit fundraising company, National Fundraising Management.
  • Bill and Randy s for-profit auto salvage company, Metro Metals Corp.
  • Bill s auction house, Metro Auto Auctions.
  • Bill and Randy s and Randy s wife s exorbitant compensation for running their nonprofit (not to mention the donation-funded portion of their salaries from National Fundraising Management, Metro Metals, and Metro Auto Auctions.)

But Make-a-Wish isn t the only charity that Bigley and Heiligman stiff every year. Car Donation Foundation also operates under the names Cars to Cure Breast Cancer and Vehicles for Veterans.

Yeah, more like Rides for Randy and Beaters for Bill.

The Bottom Line on Wishes for Wheels

Wishes for Wheels, a.k.a. Car Donation Services, passed on just 18 percent of the $25,724,026 they raised from the proceeds of 33,913 cars donated by individuals who entrusted them to give a fair share to Make-a-Wish. Remember, if a third party intermediary keeps more than 50 percent of the proceeds, it s not exactly the Mother Theresa of middlemen. Wishes for Wheels and their 82 percent profit? More along the lines of the Bernie Madoff of middlemen.

If you want to make a donation to Make-a-Wish. don t give them your car! Send them a check and save the car donation for a charity that uses a reputable intermediary organization.

You really have to wonder how much more money these people could possibly need. And you have to wonder about the state of the souls of those who would remorselessly make millions of dollars off of the deliberate exploitation of public compassion for terminally ill children.

I ll just leave you to ponder that while I go weep into a beer.

Choose One:


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