By Marilyn Angel Wynn
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.