Kars 4 kids Car Donation scam ?

Car donations must be vetted! Orthodox Jewish education, airfare to Israel, all under the guise of helping kids! Evasive Marketing Effort

It seems so simple. As the radio jingle says, call 1-877-Kars4kids, and “donate your car today.”

Not only will you get a tax deduction and a voucher for a two-night hotel stay, you also get the satisfaction of knowing that all the proceeds of your donation will help provide food, clothing, education and guidance to children between 6 and 18 years old, as the Kars4Kids Web site says.

Cars donated through Kars4Kids actually go to the Lakewood, N.J.-based nonprofit JOY for Our Youth, which uses the catchier Kars4Kids name in its fundraising efforts.

And the vast majority of JOY’s program services dollars go to another organization that shares its same New Jersey address and devotes its efforts to orthodox Jewish education.

The confusing chain of charities behind the simple radio ad highlights a problem for many donors who want to better understand where their contribution is going, particularly when it comes to car donations.

“Sadly, the onus is really on the donor,” said Sandra Miniutti, vice president of marketing for Charity Navigator, which evaluates and rates the country’s largest nonprofits.

Car donations lately have drawn the attention of the Internal Revenue Service. A tax law instituted in 2005 requires that taxpayers receive a charity’s written confirmation of their donation before they claim a tax deduction, and it limits the deduction to the gross proceeds from the sale of the vehicle by the charity.

Many donors approach car donations in the wrong way, Miniutti said.

Rather than simply handing over a car for the benefit of the deduction – or the two-night hotel stay – donors should look at what the charity does with the proceeds of the car’s sale, she said.

Plenty of Illinois charities accept car donations through intermediary organizations, many of which are for-profit, but Miniutti recommends finding a charity that accepts them directly.

The nonprofit Marklund at Mill Creek in Geneva accepts cars directly, as well as riding lawn mowers, golf carts, airplanes, boats and RVs.

Mutual Ground, a nonprofit shelter for domestic abuse victims in Aurora, also accepts car donations, according to its Web site.

In 2005, $2.8 million of JOY’s $3.1 million total program services expenses went to an organization called Oorah, according to JOY’s 501 (c)3 tax form for 2005.

Phone calls to JOY for Our Youth and Oorah were not immediately returned.

Oorah’s goal, according to its Web site, is to awaken Jewish children and their families to their heritage, by sending them to Jewish day schools, or yeshivos, or even helping pay for their airfare to, or education in, Israel.

“While the children learn and grow, we bring adult education opportunities to the parents, as well as all the ritual objects and support they need to live a full Jewish life,” the organization reports.

Although Oorah’s goal might be admirable, its evasive marketing efforts are not, said Rabbi Maralee Gordon of the McHenry County Jewish Congregation.

“Jewish education of children is of utmost importance in Judaism,” Gordon said. But any deception in the organization’s marketing would be strongly against Jewish ethics, she said.

The Better Business Bureau has said the charity did not meet four of its 20 standards for charity accountability. JOY just missed the BBB’s standard that 65 percent of its total expenses go to program service activities, as it spent 64 percent on programs.

Oorah spent 52 percent of its expenses on program services and 32 percent on fundraising. Miniutti said the typical organization evaluated by Charity Navigator spends 75 percent on program services and 10 percent on advertising.

JOY also does not meet the BBB’s standard for including a detailed functional breakdown of expenses, for making detailed information available on its Web site, and also for providing information on how it protects the personal information of donors.

Tips on donating your car

– Donate to a charity that accepts cars directly

– Drive a usable car to the charity yourself, to lower its costs

– Make sure the organization is a non-profit to ensure the donation is tax deductible

– Be sure to formally sign the car over and reassign its ownership

– Value the car correctly for the deduction. Visit www.irs.gov for guidelines.

Law Enforcement Investigates Kars 4 Kids Charity Scam

LIZ WOLGEMUTH – lwolgemuth@nwnewsgroup.com

5 Responses to “Kars 4 kids Car Donation scam ?”
  1. LJ Schmidt says:

    Their ad nauseam jingle makes me turn off the radio channel. Their commercials play once per hour for 24 hours
    on WGN Radio, Chicago. In fact the jingle can be heard on virtually all the popular am stations in Chicago.
    It’s no wonder they use a whopping 32 % for advertising. What’s more, their “free” 3 day – 2 nite stay at a resort
    is nothing short of a timeshare pitch. Once accepted I wonder if the IRS would allow this deduction?

    Furthermore, they certainly are not transparent about the funds going exclusively to Jewish kids.
    If another charity excepted Jewish children they would be run off the air for anit-semitism.

    What a scam charity.

  2. J Sm says:

    Kars4Kids is a scam. Donors beware.

  3. G Casey says:

    A local TV station exposed this organization for what it is. As is the case with almost all charities, most funds garnered by donations – cash, cars or otherwise – go to adminstrative which oftentimes includes enriching the fund’s proprietors. The guidelines for 501(C)(3) are quite loose and unprincipled principals take advantage of that very fact. But that is not the misleading part. The obnoxious jingle (which also causes me to turn off the radio during a ball game for a minute) leads one to BELIEVE that kids are being helped. That may or may not be true but what seems to be clear from the news program’s expose is that ONLY orthodox Jewish education is benefitted. If you know this fact going in that’s fine but I don’t appreciate the blatant misconception. When the news program tried to discuss this matter with one of the principals he was evasive and rude – I guess you can say stiff-necked.

    I had a car I no longer needed and decided to have it crushed and took the hard cash. I will not be donating anything to this organization due to their deception and running a BUSINESS under the guise of a charitable organization. Kars for Kids? Kall to Truth!

  4. John says:

    Kars for Kids = Scam for adults! What a crock, on top of all the other deceptive practices, they “claim” to give you a vacation voucher which turns out to be a trip to a “time sharing” presentation and actually CHARGE $10 to sit through it on top of the $50 deposit required to be sent in before this ridiculous scam can start. Then when calling the company appointed to handle the “so-called” vacation voucher, the call seldom goes through, get put on hold and then the call is dropped or a ridiculous voicemail message. When you finally do get through, all they care about is your financial stability. I booked a date and they confirmed but then asked “what is your annual income?” I decided to tell them a very low figure 25-30k (even though I make 3x’s that) immediately the rep said, “Oh wait, I am not sure that date is available and said she would have to call back. I knew that was the end of that. Of course no one ever called and I have been able to reach no one either when calling.

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