Before you donate - do your research!

If you want to donate to a charity to support our troops, you should. But before you send even $1, this story over at the Stars and Stripes shows why you should do some research first.

According the article, the charity Move America Forward, which began in 2005, launched a fundraising campaign in February 2013 to send 800 Marines in Afghanistan. The fundraising drive was described as "a complete success" some weeks later, but apparently no one told the charity that the 800 Marines from a 1st Marine Division battalion weren't in Afghanistan, they were in Okinawa, several thousand miles away.

In addition, the charity has claimed a partnership with Walter Reed National Military Medical Center, which the Defense Department claims is not true. Move America Forward has also "taken images and stories from other groups and from veterans themselves without permission to use in fundraising appeals", and used money gathered to subsidize three conservative political action committees (PACs).

The independent nonprofit Charity Navigator, which rates charities based on financial health and transparency has given the charity an overall rating of 14 out of 70 and 0 stars out of 4. The administrative costs of the charity (money spent on overhead, administrative staff and associated costs, and organizational meetings) accounts for 39% of the charities total revenue. Other similar charities have much lower administrative costs, the Wounded Warrior project admin costs are under 6%, while the VA's Army Emergency Relief Fund has admin costs at 9.3%.

This is a good reminder - before you donate money, do some research. We have a whole list of charities over at our Support the Troops page, but make sure to do your own research!

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