Children’s Charity Comes Under Fire From Watchdog Group, Minnesota Attorney General

NEW YORK (CBS2) — The jingle for the charity Kars4Kids is catchy. But does a donation come with a catch?

“My main concern about Kars4Kids is that people don’t know what’s really happening with this charity,” said Daniel Borochoff, president of Charity Watch, a nonprofit agency that reviews the financial effciency of charities.

According to Charity Watch, Kars4Kids spent $17 million on commercials in 2015.

“So when one makes a donation to Kars4Kids, they’re basically paying for those ads,” Borochoff told CBS2’s Valerie Castro.

Even more of the money — as much as 90 percent, according to Minnesota attorney general Lori Swanson — goes toward a sister organization based in New Jersey called Oorah, which operates Jewish youth summer camps in New York.

“It’s important when people donate to a charity that they have information in terms of where their money’s going,” Swanson said.

From 2012 to 2014, Kars4Kids raised $3 million in Minnesota through car donations, but less than $12,000 of that went to Minnesota children.

“That’s fine if people want to raise money for Orthodox Jews, but they need to be clear and state that’s what the purpose is,” Borochoff said.

Kars4Kids issued a statement, saying: “Since we are headquartered in the northeast, many of our programs and recipients naturally come from this area. We believe Minnesota residents appreciate that their generous donations to Kars4Kids help children both in and out of state.”

In 2009, Kars4Kids paid settlements in Pennsylvania after being charged with misleading donors.

As for New Jersey, the attorney general’s office would neither confirm nor deny it is investigating the charity. CBS2 is still checking to see if New York is taking action.

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