March 13, 2011

Phony Indian charities

Zip Up your Wallet!...Until You Read This

By Marilyn Angel WynnThrough my online research, I discovered that one of the most well known charities, the American Indian Relief Council (AIRC), was reported as being the most scrupulous of all Native American Funds.

Employees blew the whistle on the organization's dubious fundraising pitches, which they said were manipulative exaggerations and lies. They complained that the money the AIRC raised for Native Americans wasn't making it to the reservations.

The AIRC shifted its focus to the American Southwest. They have been born anew under a different parent organization, National Relief Charities (NRC), the Council of Indian Nations and Southwest Indian Relief. However, the charity's makeover is entirely superficial. The NRC is still distributing a pitiful portion of its revenues to bogus programs it pretends to serve.

According to the NRC's 1999 federal tax filings, it earned more than $8.3 million in donations that year, but only 30 percent was spent on programs. The National Charities Information Bureau suggests charities should spend a minimum of 60 percent of total expenditures on programs and services. Scrupulous fundraising intentionally exploits the plight of Native Americans to obtain donations–and then used the contributions to primarily benefit certain officers and directors of the charity. According to the American Institute of Philanthropy, also a watchdog service, this charity received an "F" grade.

Unfortunately this is not an isolated one. My investigation showed similar dubious practices by the National Relief Charities, the Native American Heritage Association, American Indian Heritage Foundation, the Southwest Indian Foundation, and the Southwest Indian Children's Fund. Unfortunately, I’ve already been duped and wrote plenty of checks to most of these organizations.
Comment:  For more on the subject, see Whites Show Indians the Way?


Anonymous said...

CNN had advice about charities for earthquake/tsunami/volcano/meltdown survivors. The same rules can go for any charities.

NRC said...

I am writing this in behalf of National Relief Charities. It is sad to see this misinformation being repeated. Over 70% of our income goes toward programs. This is well above the Standards for Charity Accountability established by the Better Business Bureau. We are aware of the misinformation that exists on the Internet about misuse of funds. The settlement agreement for that issue (now 17 years old) clearly states "no finding of wrongdoing on the part of AIRC or NRC," and no penalty paid by us because there was no wrongdoing.

For current and accurate information about National Relief Charities and the true impact of our programs, please visit There you will find our press room stocked with current news on our programs, our annual report, our IRS return, our effectiveness report, impact stories, our Plains and Southwest service area, and all of the other publications and documentation that make us fully transparent. Again, that's Or feel free to email if you have specific questions.