September 17, 2008

Sixy-Five Percent of Funds Raised by ADA Go to Fundraisers NOT ADA

The next time you are tempted to contribute to the American Diabetes Association, consider this: The LA Times reported this July that only 35.1% of the money donated to the American Diabetes Association in California actually went to the ADA. The rest went to the for-profit fundraisers it hired.

American Diabetes Association rated in the LA Times Charity Database HERE

Here's who got the money that was raised in the name of the ADA:

List of Fund Raisers that ADA Money Went to - LA Times Charity Database

I've run into those ADA fundraisers. Last year they phoned me every night for a month. Since they are keeping 65% of every dollar they raise, their enthusiasm is understandable.

What is NOT understandable is why the American Diabetes Association is willing to lend its name to such predatory fundraising practices. Well conducted health charities in California keep 80% or more of every dollar raised in their name. Here is a list of other health charities in California and how much of the funds raised in their names actually get to them:

Other Health Charities Listed in the LA Times Charity Fund Raising Database

Nationally the news about the ADA's efficiency is not much better. The Charity Navigator web site which rates charities nationwide gives the ADA two stars and presents

this page of information about how the ADA uses its money.

Note that the ADA gets the lowest possible rating, one star, for "Organizational Efficiency" or how it spends its money.

The ADA gets $213 million dollars a year of which $7,678,945 is spent on "administrative expenses." That translated into English means "Salaries for top ADA executives.".

The Charity Navigator site calculates the "fundraising efficiency" of an organization which is how much money it spends to raise a dollar. They report that the ADA spends $.26 to raise a buck. In contrast JDRF spends $.09.

And this doesn't even get into the issue of what it is that the ADA does with the money it spends on programs. As readers of this blog know very well, much of the ADA's spending goes to promote the agendas of the drug companies that feed it millions.

The ADA has campaigned for a generation against telling people with diabetes that lowering carbohydrate intake can lower blood sugar. They have fought against lowering the recommended blood sugar targets for people with diabetes long after the American Association of Clinical Endocrinlogists lowered theirs.

The ADA continues to tell people with diabetes that it is a "myth" that people with diabetes should cut back on starch and sugar. They continue to promote high carbohydrate/low fat diets that make blood sugar control impossible and force people with Type 2 diabetes to rely on expensive, largely ineffective, dangerous oral drugs.

The ADA continues to tell people with Type 1 diabetes that it is dangerous to shoot for blood sugar targets lower than 180 mg/dl (10 mmol/L) two hours after eating.

And the ADA continues to be the authority that doctors turn to for guidance in how to treat their patients with diabetes--which is one reason why so many of them diagnose patients late, promote diets that raise blood sugar, and accept dangerously high A1cs as "good control."

The ADA is run by very well paid professional charity executives who do not have diabetes. These are people who have never tested their blood sugar after eating a high carb meal, people who have never suffered from neuropathy caused by poor medical advice, people who are not going to go blind from the advice they dish out. They have close ties to the drug companies who dominate their agendas. They have no interest in hearing from or catering to the needs to those of us who have diabetes even though they raise those hundreds of millions of dollars in our name every year.

It's time for this to stop. Let your friends and family know these facts about the ADA's shockingly bad rating as a charity so they aren't tempted to enrich for-profit fundraising companies in the mistaken belief that their money would be going to help cure your diabetes.

Every time I see an obituary in the newspaper where the bereaved family asks contributions in memory of their loved one be sent to the ADA I marvel at the con job the ADA has done on the American public.

Let's bring it to an end!


Allison said...

Although I know JDRF has it's problems, this is one of the reasons why I donate to them and not JDRF. JDRF has always been highly ranked among the charity reviewers for keeping their operating costs down. I believe something like 81 cents out of every dollar goes directly to research they support. Even if you don't support their research, that's still very cool that they are able to do that!

Jenny said...


I had a similar feeling about the JDRF. However I am getting annoyed at how much of the money I donate comes back in the form of letters filled with stickers etc asking for more money. I figure the postage and printing costs must have eaten up $50 of my contribution and that makes me less prone to contribute further.

I am giving a lot of thought to designing a new Web-era approach to joining together to combat diabetes that doesn't rely on the top-heavy charity organizations that fit better into the ethos of the 19th century.

k2 said...

I just got a letter from the ADA & your post seriously makes me think twice about donating.

Anonymous said...

The (ADA) guidelines, which seem so ridiculous regarding dietary compliance, were actually mandated by the ADA in order to cover the insulin-makers asses regarding fast-acting insulins and the unpredictability associated with these products. Physicians and the insulin makers KNEW that proteins, fats, and in some cases, slow-acting carbs eaten after a high-fat meal, would not be absorbed quickly enough into the bloodstream to cover a fact-acting bolus. This is the reason why sugar, carbonated beverages, ice cream and so many other fast-acting carbs are now ALLOWED in the diet. Amazing, isn’t it that this situation can be framed as “allowing diabetics more freedom of choice in food consumption and normalcy” when in effect it is merely an insurance provision for the insulin cartel. If they (the greater diabetic population) knew the truth, they would be outraged at the exploitation to which they are subjected . . . as well as the exploitation that is conduction "in their name."

When I learned to just what degree my dollars were WASTED, I took any reference to the ADA out of my Will, and have informed my family and friends that any donation to this organization is truly an abomination.


Lili said...

Jenny - I thought the same thing about mailings, but then I was told that they can be written off, so it doesn't end up taking up your contribution.

Jenny said...


Things that are "written off" are deducted from income for tax purposes. The money is still spent. The only benefit of a write off is that you "save" the amount you would have paid in taxes.

But a non-profit shouldn't be paying tax in the first place, so there is nothing against which to write off expenses.

Those mailings are extremely expensive and use up money that could be used for more useful purposes.

The charities I continue to support are those that contact me twice a year and no more. There are several of them that do good work. Interplast is one I particularly admire. They send doctors out to do plastic surgery on third world people with horrible birth defects and burns. There are a bunch of other copycat charities that run a lot of expensive ads, which don't do anywhere near as much actual surgery as Interplast does.

Anonymous said...

Now, Jenny, be fair! They have reduced their recommended carb level from 300g to 135g which is more than DUK have done (that was sarcasm by the way) anonymous is partly right, their recommendations probably come from a need to support type 1s on Mixturd. I had hoped John Buse would drag them kicking and screaming into the 21st century but I'm still waiting. Even if they read their own forums they'd learn a lot (sigh)

Charities are just as much Big Business these days as any other industry, their prime function is to employ people who mostly couldn't get proper jobs and they can't do that by upsetting the applecart. Like you I only support the small guys who still use rather than waste the money.

Anonymous said...

Every year I support the school walk for the ADA at my son's school. The ADA has been a wonderful resource for my son and me. They have come out to his school and talked to each class about what diabetes is, the difference between type 1 & 2, the importance of physical activity and eating right. It makes my son proud being the only at school that has diabetes because he gets positive attention that day.

Also the ADA is the organization that supports the diabetes camps here in Kansas. I cannot express how much it means to me for my son to be with his peers and actually not be the only who has to stop playing and test. And for me personally, I LOVE knowing he is being taken well care of and I don't have to worry and think about diabetes-what a luxury that is!!!! I honestly feel "lighter". (I hope he can feel that one day).
The ADA also sponsors other activities for kids with diabetes to get together-candy buy back program at Halloween, swimming parties, bowling etc.
They are soon starting a mentoring program hooking up parents of newly diagnosed children with us "veterans".
If JDRF had that support for me and my son (in Kansas) I would gladly support them but for now I happily give to the ADA.


Anonymous said...

Just read a couple of articles implying that at least part of our financial meltdown can be tied to excessive executive pay. One financial expert stated she was not against executives earning large compensation packages--the operative word being EARNING. Corporate CEO's win whether they achieve good results for their shareholders, or bad results.

Seems to be, the same thing could be said of many of our charitable organizations. If CEO pay were tied to PERFORMANCE (you know, kind of adhering to the MISSION STATEMENT) it might not seem so bad that first and foremost, charitable contributions pay executive/administrative costs FIRST!

Becki--glad the ADA is providing you support. The same can't be said for many of us. After more than 4 decades, I see the organization as little more than a quasi-corporation, willing to exploit patients (Run for a Cure, Walk for a Cure, Ride for a Cure, ad nauseum). Occasionally, the provide a bit of sop for patient . . . but ultimately, it is generally more PR fodder.

While I don't think individuals should expect a Return on Investment for charitable giving, when one is a patient as well as a donor, seeing NOTHING in return for a contribution gets rather tiresome. First decade with diabetes . . . a cure was only 5 years away; second decade . . . only 5 years away. More recently, the mantra has changed to "on the horizon" and I wonder WHICH HORIZON and is a horizon nearer or farther away than a mere FIVE YEARS?