News & Updates

 

Wise Giving Wednesday: Healing Heroes Network Reaches Settlement with 11 States

Jan 13, 2021

A Florida-based veterans charity, Healing Heroes Network, and its former directors reached a settlement yesterday with eleven states (CA, FL, IL, MA, MD, MN, NM, OH, OR, VA, WA) based on allegations of deceptive appeals, including a misleading sweepstakes. Among other things, the organization made false claims in social media that 100% of proceeds would help wounded veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan receive medical treatment not available from the Veterans Administration. Instead very little of the amounts raised went to address this mission. As reported in the 2017 IRS Form 990, Helping Heroes Network spent 13% ($347,519) of total expenses ($2,746,462) on program service activities. This 990 Form also reports that, in 2017, $19,049 of noncash assistance (food, rent, utilities, tablets and medical assistance) was provided to 149 recipients.  The settlement requires the organization and its directors, without admitting to any violation of law, to permanently cease appeals and pay $95,000 to another charity that is closely aligned with its mission. The former directors of the charity are also banned from managing or overseeing a charity for the next five years. (An exception was cited for one director noting he is not prevented from serving on the board of a nonprofit hospital or medical association.) A copy of the California version of the Stipulation for Entry of Judgment and Permanent Injunction can be found here.

Healing Heroes Network is also affiliated with a business, Hero Giveaways, which allegedly was formed when the states began investigating Healing Heroes Network. Healing Heroes Network also did business using the names American Injured Veterans, American Injured Veterans Foundation, Injured American Veterans Foundation, Get the Bikes, Harleys for Heroes, Outdoors for Heroes, Tablets for Heroes, and Welcome Home Heroes.

To help contributors make wise giving decisions, BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice:

  • Avoid Mistaken Identity. Some veterans charity names sound alike. Make sure the organization you are considering is the one you want to support.
  • Find Out What They Do. Don’t assume what the organization does based on their name alone. Look for a clear description of the charity ‘s programs in its appeals and on its website.
  • Be Careful with Phone Appeals. If not managed properly, some telemarketing campaigns for veterans organizations can be an expensive way to raise funds with very little going to the organization. If called, do not hesitate to ask for written information or visit the group’s website to find out about its programs and finances before making a giving decision.
  • Watch Out for Excessive Pressure.  Don’t be pressured to make an immediate on-the-spot donation to a veterans organization. Charities should welcome your gift whenever you want to send it.
  • Review Sweepstakes Claims Carefully. Be cautious about any sweepstakes that claims or implies the recipient is already a winner. The recipient is unlikely to have won but probably will have a chance among those that respond. For a national direct mail campaign, that might mean hundreds of thousands or millions of sweepstakes letters were distributed. For more tips on this subject click here.
  • Ask How Donated Items Will Be Used. Find out how the charity benefits from the collection and resale of used clothing and other in-kind gifts.
  • Check Give.org: In addition to charity reports on BBB’s Give.org, check with your state government’s charity registration agency, usually a division of either the Attorney General’s office or Secretary of State’s office. In Canada, check with the Canada Revenue Agency.

To find veterans organizations that meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, visit Give.org.


Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video featuring an interview with Brent Cooper, Executive Director of Green Beret Foundation (a BBB Accredited Charity) which provides financial assistance, support, and liaison services for wounded, ill and injured members and former members of the Special Forces of the United States Army and their family members


Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to www.give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance