ST. PAUL, Minn. - Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson has issued an eye-opening report on New Jersey-based Kars4Kids, one of the nation’s largest vehicle donation programs.
The 1-877-KARS-4-KIDS radio jingle might be familiar to many Minnesotans. In fact, Swanson says more than 5,800 residents donated used cars to the charity, totaling $3 million between 2012 and 2014. Yet, according to Swanson, the organization only spent $11,600 on charitable programs in Minnesota.
“Donors need accurate and straightforward information to make informed choices. We hope this report sheds greater transparency on Kars4Kids,“ said Swanson.
According to Swanson, Kars4Kids received $87.8 million in proceeds from the sale and scrapping of about 160,000 vehicles donated nationwide between 2012 and 2014. Instead of giving back, Swanson says the organization acts as the fundraising arm of Oorah, Inc., a New Jersey charity which shares a headquarters and staff with Kars4Kids. From 2012 to 2014, more than $40 million, or over 90 percent of Kars4Kids' actual expenditures on charitable programming, went to Oorah.
In March, the watchdog group Charity Watch sharply criticized Kars4Kids for not disclosing its relationship with Oorah as well as its charitable programming. The charity says its mission is to promote Orthodox Judaism, primarily to New Jersey and New York children.
Swanson's office has forwarded their report to the Internal Revenue Service, which grants and revokes the tax-exempt status of charities.