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There are literally hundreds of organizations that tote their everlasting support to veterans and veteran causes. These organizations have grown by leaps and bounds and more are sprouting up daily. There are several reasons for the growth and never-ending spawn of new organizations to which we will comment on two main reasons:

  1. Active duty servicemembers and veterans are a hot button issue right now. We’ve been at war for the longest period in our nation’s history and we’re drawing from an entirely volunteer military. There’s a tremendous need for support simply because the organizations in place are not keeping up with the demand. You’ll find organizations that sprout up to meet very specific needs and only cater to a small population of veterans. There’s not necessarily anything wrong with these organizations but note that they may only assist a very select type of need.
  2. There’s a TON of money in veteran issues right now. Because of the preceding reason, individuals know that there’s a significant need and they’re willing to capitalize on the patriotism of others to make a quick buck.

There are several charity navigators available where you may research each  and decide for yourself which you would like to donate. The nice thing about these navigators is that they don’t just report on veteran organizations but instead look at EVERY charity. They are very easy to use and they are completely independent of any non-profit organization or company.

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator works to guide intelligent giving. By guiding intelligent giving, we aim to advance a more efficient and responsive philanthropic marketplace, in which givers and the charities they support work in tandem to overcome our nation’s and the world’s most persistent challenges.

Charity Navigator is a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization under the Internal Revenue Code and does not accept any contributions from any charities we evaluate.

CharityWatch

CharityWatch is America’s most independent and assertive charity watchdog. Rather than merely repeat charities’ self-reported finances using simplistic or automated formulas, we delve deep to find the real story of how efficiently charities use your donations to fund the programs you want to support. Founded in 1992 as the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP), CharityWatch continues to expose nonprofit abuses and advocate for your interests as a donor.

To Whom Do You Donate?

At the bottom of this page, you will find the “Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors,” but ultimately, if you donate to organizations that you KNOW, most likely, your donation will be used as it was intended. We have provided a few of the local veteran organizations or programs that we provide, are from the area or that we have worked with. All organizations have either tax exempt or non-profit status through the Internal Revenue Service and are listed in alphabetical order.

The American Legion & Auxiliaries

  • There exist several American Legion’s and Auxiliaries in the county that have fundraising events from time to time. Those events support their posts and, if they choose, other organizations in our community that are in need. For example, several posts donate towards our own Bremer County Transportation Fund that supports the cost of transporting Bremer County veterans to their VA medical appointments. Others provide direct financial assistance to veterans in need while still others donate towards scholarship programs for students and larger projects like the Waverly Area Veterans Post.
  • Waverly American Legion Post 176
  • Sumner American Legion Post 223
  • The National American Legion Headquarters holds a 501(c) (3) and each of the local posts hold a similar tax status because they are a Veteran Service Organization.

American Veterans (AMVETS) & Auxiliaries

  • There is only one AMVETS in Bremer County which resides in Waverly. They are very similar to The American Legion in the services they provide and the fundraising they do.
  • Waverly AMVETS Post 79
  • Waverly AMVETS Post 79 Auxiliary
  • The National AMVETS Headquarters holds a 501(c) (3) status and the local post holds a similar tax status because they are a Veteran Service Organization.

Bremer County Veterans Affairs, Heroes Reborn Fund

  • Bremer County Veterans Affairs does not fund-raise for it’s Heroes Reborn Fund. We have a donation button on our website and allow supporters to donate towards it but we do not actively fund-raise simply because there are other important non-profit and tax-exempt organizations in the area whose sole income comes from donations. To read more about the project, go to our Heroes Reborn page.
  • Bremer County Veterans Affairs holds a tax-exempt status because we are a government organization.

Bremer County Veteran Transportation Fund

  • Bremer County Veterans Affairs requests donations from the Veteran Service Organizations on an annual basis. Many of the Veteran Service Organizations donate towards the fund and we allow private donations however, we do not actively fund-raise to the general public. To read more about our benefactors, go to our Sponsors page.
  • Bremer County Veterans Affairs holds a tax-exempt status because we are a government organization.

Bremer County Veteran Food Pantry

  • The Bremer County Veteran Food Pantry is a new addition to our program and while we do not actively fund-raise, we do post information about the pantry on our website and Facebook pages. To read more about the pantry, click HERE.
  • Bremer County Veterans Affairs holds a tax-exempt status because we are a government organization.

Bremer County Veterans Affairs Fund, The Neighborhood Closet

  • Similar to all of our other programs, we do not actively fund-raise for this program. Individuals can simply drop off their gently used items at The Neighborhood Closet and ask them to put it on the Veterans Affairs account. Donors remain anonymous yet can help a veteran or his or her family in need.
  • Bremer County Veterans Affairs holds a tax-exempt status because we are a government organization.

Bremer County Winter Coat Bank

  • By now, you’re probably wondering what fundraising that Bremer County Veterans Affairs does. The answer is very little. This program is also a new addition to our overall program and individuals may drop off their gently used coats for men, women and children at the office and we will be sure that it goes to a veteran or their family member. All of our programs are posted on our webpage and/or Facebook pages and any donations we receive are through word-of-mouth or viewing those posts.
  • Bremer County Veterans Affairs holds a tax-exempt status because we are a government organization.

Cedar Valley Friends of the Family

  • Cedar Valley Friends of the Family (CVFF) has been a tremendous support to the veterans of Bremer County. Through a grant that they’ve received annually, they’re able to permanently house some of our homeless veterans. This is significant because the alternative would be to send them to a shelter in Iowa City where the veteran alone will live until permanent housing becomes available. In some cases, that could take months. With CVFF’s assistance, homeless veterans can remain in the area where their greatest support network lies and their family can remain with them. They have multiple fundraising events and are usually in need of monetary donations and some furniture and goods. To see a current list of their needs, go to their website.
  • Cedar Valley Friends of the Family holds a 501(c) (3) status.

Denver Cares

  • To date, I have never seen nor heard of any fundraising events that this community organization has held. According to the Denver Forum, “Denver Cares is about the citizens of the community caring for one another, so Denver Cares receives donations only from community members and community groups. We have been lucky enough to work with this organization on a few occasions when a veteran was nearly six months behind on his rent and unable to pay the mounting medical bills for his wife. Denver Cares worked tirelessly with us on providing this family some assistance to allow them to stay in their home. If you would like to make a donation to Denver Cares, you may call Peggy Rogers at (319) 984-6243.
  • Denver Cares holds no special tax status.

Immaculate Conception Catholic Church

  • Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Sumner, Iowa is a part of the Sumner Area Ministerial, a collection of churches in the Sumner area that provide emergency assistance to those in need. We have worked with them to provide emergency housing assistance to a family in need and their emergency assistance program is primarily funded by private donations from the community and each of their congregations.
  • Immaculate Conception Catholic Church and the Sumner Area Ministerial hold a tax-exempt status because they are a religious organization.

Iowa City VA Medical Center

  • Generally speaking, the Iowa City VA Medical Center is funded by the Department of Veterans Affairs. However, there are several areas that do not receive any monies and those programs are funded directly by private donors. Phone cards, throw-away phones, greeting cards and the like cannot be purchased by conventional means. The Volunteer Services provides these items, free of charge, to veterans in need. To see the entire list of needs, click HERE.
  • Iowa City VA Medical Center holds a tax-exempt status because they are a government organization.

Iowa Veterans Home

  • Similar to the Iowa City VA Medical Center, the Iowa Veterans Home is supported by the taxpayers of Iowa and federal grant funds. Also similar to the Iowa City VA Medical Center, state nor federal funds can be used to purchase many items for the residents. Their medical needs are taken care of however, comfort needs such as deodorant, shampoo and the like must be donated from private citizens. To see their entire list of needs, click HERE.
  • The Iowa Veterans Home holds a tax-exempt status because they are a government organization.

The Marine Corps League & Auxiliary

  • The Marine Corps League is another Veteran Service Organization that is located in Waverly, Iowa. They are similar to The American Legion and AMVETS in their fundraising practices and we have worked with them on several occasions to assist veterans on an emergency basis. Additionally, The Northeast Iowa Marine Corps League donates towards the Bremer County Transportation Fund and is always willing to assist when we have a Marine, Corpsman or Chaplain in need of assistance.
  • Northeast Iowa Marine Corps League Detachment 1241
  • The Marine Corps League and Auxiliaries hold a 501(c) (3) status at the national level each of the local posts hold a similar tax status because they are a Veteran Service Organization.

Northeast Iowa Community Action Committee

  • The Northeast Iowa Community Action Committee has been paramount in assisting our Bremer County Veterans. They offer many need-based programs and most of their funding comes from grants and charitable donations from other organizations. In nearly every case, Northeast Iowa Community Action Committee is able to assist our veterans when we can’t.
  • Northeast Iowa Community Action Committee holds a 501(c) (3) status.

Rally Point Cedar Valley Veterans

  • Rally Point Cedar Valley Veterans and it’s shelter, LZ Phoenix, is Iowa’s ONLY transitional and homeless program specifically designed for the needs of our veterans. They offer a homelike atmosphere for veterans, their families and their companion animals to live while working with other community agencies to foster self-sufficiency and sustainability.
  • Rally Point Cedar Valley Veterans holds a 501(c) (3) status.

Retrieving Freedom

  • Many of you already know about Retrieving Freedom but for those of you who don’t, they train service dogs for children with autism and veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder. They hold frequent large fundraisers since the cost associated with training each service dog is $30,000.
  • Retrieving Freedom holds a 501(c) (3) status.

St. Mary’s Catholic Church & The Waverly Area Ministerial

  • St. Mary’s Catholic Church and The Waverly Area Ministerial are funded by the congregations of each of their churches and through private donors. We work with them, hand-in-hand, to keep veterans housed, fed, with their power on, and their vehicle’s running. Bremer County veterans would be in a much worse place if it weren’t for the Ministerial and St. Mary’s Catholic Church.
  • St. Mary’s Catholic Church and The Waverly Area Ministerial hold tax-exempt status because they are a religious organization.

Waverly Area Veterans Post

  • The Waverly Area Veterans Post is a pending project that will house the four Waverly-area Veterans Organizations. Their goal, once completed, will be to offer:
    • Internet and SKYPE for families to connect with service members
    • Access for veterans to research and apply for benefits
    • Access to pursue career opportunities upon completion of active service
    • Opportunities for veterans to continue their education
    • An Information Center and Library of Veteran publications
    • Contact Point and Counseling Service for members and families to get timely information
    • A safe place to gather and communicate with those who care
    • A satellite center of our office
  • The Waverly Area Veterans Post holds a tax-exempt status because they are a veteran organization.

Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) & Auxiliaries

  • There exist several VFW’s and Auxiliaries in the county that have fundraising events from time to time. Those events support their posts and, if they choose, other organizations in our community that are in need. For example, several posts donate towards our own Bremer County Transportation Fund that supports the cost of transporting Bremer County veterans to their VA medical appointments. Others provide direct financial assistance to veterans in need while still others donate towards scholarship programs for students and larger projects like the Waverly Area Veterans Post.
  • The VFW and Auxiliaries National Headquarters hold a 501 (c) (3) status and each of the local posts hold a similar tax status because they are a Veteran Service Organization.
  • VFW Post 2208

Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors

1. Be Proactive in Your Giving

Smart givers generally don’t give reactively in a knee-jerk fashion. They don’t respond to the first organization that appeals for help. They take the time to identify which causes are most important to their families and they are specific about the change they want to affect. For example, they don’t just support generic cancer charities, but instead have targeted goals for their giving, such as providing mammograms to at-risk women in their community.

2. Hang Up The Phone / Eliminate The Middleman

Informed donors recognize that for-profit fundraisers, those often used in charitable telemarketing campaigns, keep a large portion (in some cases all) of each dollar they collect. Wise donors never give out their personal information – like credit card accounts, social security numbers – over the phone. If they like what they hear in the pitch, they’ll hang up, investigate the charity on-line and send their contribution directly to the charity, thereby cutting out the middleman and ensuring 100% of their donation reaches the charity. Taking it a step further, donors may want to reconsider supporting a charity that uses an inefficient telemarketing approach and instead identify a charity that does not use telemarketing to raise funds.

3. Be Careful Of Sound-Alike Names

Uninformed donors are easily confused by charities that have strikingly similar names to others. How many of us could tell the difference between an appeal from the Children’s Charity Fund and the Children’s Defense Fund? Their names sound the same, but their performances are vastly different. Would you be surprised to learn that the Children’s Charity Fund is a 0-star charity while the Children’s Defense Fund is a 3-star charity? Informed donors take the time to uncover the difference.

4. Confirm 501(c) (3) Or Tax-Exempt Status

Wise donors don’t drop money into canisters at the checkout counter or hand over cash to solicitors outside the supermarket. Situations like these are irresistible to scam artists who wish to take advantage of your goodwill. Smart givers only support groups granted tax-exempt status under section 501(c) (3) of the Internal Revenue Code. All of the charities evaluated by Charity Navigator meet this basic requirement.

5. Check The Charity’s Commitment To Accountability & Transparency

In 2011, Charity Navigator added an Accountability & Transparency dimension to its rating system. It tracks metrics such as whether the charity used an objective process to determine their CEO’s salary, whether it has an effective governance structure, and whether it has a whistleblower policy. This data is critical because charities that follow good governance and transparency practices are less likely to engage in unethical or irresponsible activities. So, the risk that such charities would misuse donations is lower than for charities that don’t adopt such practices.

6. Obtain Copies Of Its Financial Records

Savvy donors know that the financial health of a charity is a strong indicator of the charity’s programmatic performance. They know that in most cause areas, the most efficient charities spend 75% or more of their budget on their programs and services and less than 25% on fundraising and administrative fees. However, they also understand that mid-to-large sized charities do require a strong infrastructure therefore a claim of zero fundraising and/or administrative fees is unlikely at best. They understand that a charity’s ability to sustain its programs over time is just as important as its short-term day-to-day spending practices. Therefore, savvy donors also seek out charities that are able to grow their revenue at least at the rate of inflation, that continue to invest in their programs and that have some money saved for a rainy day. All of this analysis is provided on Charity Navigator’s website for free, but when considering groups not found here, savvy donors ask the charity for copies of its three most recent Forms 990. Not only can the donor examine the charity’s finances, but the charity’s willingness to send the documents is a good way to assess its commitment to transparency.

7. Review Executive Compensation

Sophisticated donors realize that charities need to pay their top leaders a competitive salary in order to attract and retain the kind of talent needed to run a multi-million dollar organization and produce results. But they also don’t just take the CEO’s compensation at face value; they benchmark it against similar-sized organizations engaged in similar work and located in the same region of the country. In general, salaries tend to be higher in the northeast and at arts and education charities. Sophisticated donors also put the CEO’s salary into context by examining the overall performance of the organization. They know it is better to contribute to a charity with a well-paid CEO that is meeting its goals than to support a charity with an underpaid CEO that fails to deliver on its promises.

8. Start A Dialogue To Investigate Its Programmatic Results

Although it takes some effort on their part to assess a charity’s programmatic impact, donors who are committed to advancing real change believe that it is worth their time. Before they make a contribution, they talk with the charity to learn about its accomplishments, goals and challenges. These donors are prepared to walk away from any charity that is unable or unwilling to participate in this type of conversation.

9. Concentrate Your Giving

When it comes to financial investments, diversification is the key to reducing risk. The opposite is true for philanthropic investments. If you’ve really taken the time to identify a well-run charity that is engaged in a cause that you are passionate about, you should then feel confident in giving it a donation. Spreading your money among multiple organizations not only results in your mail box filling up with more appeals, it also diminishes the possibility of any of those groups bringing about substantive change as each charity is wasting part of your gift on processing expenses for that gift.

10. Share Your Intentions And Make A Long-Term Commitment

Smart donors support their favorite charities for the long haul. They see themselves as a partner in the charity’s efforts to bring about change. They know that only with long-term, committed supporters can a charity be successful. And they don’t hesitate to tell the charity of their giving plans so that the organization knows it can rely on the donor and the charity doesn’t have to waste resources and harass the donor by sending numerous solicitations.

Disclaimer:

Bremer County Veterans Affairs makes no representations, guarantees or warranties as to the compliance with local, state, or Federal laws, legal ability, competence, quality of representation, or services provided by any of the preceding organizations except for itself. Bremer County Veterans Affairs disclaims all responsibility for any loss of any kind resulting in any way from any reliance upon, and/or errors or omissions of any kind by any of the preceding organizations for any products/services provided by such parties.

Further, Bremer County Veterans Affairs does not endorse, or make any representations, positive or negative, about the individuals, businesses or organizations above.

Free information is provided by this website; and whereas we endeavor to keep the information up-to-date and correct, we make no representations or warranties of any kind, express or implied, about the completeness, accuracy, reliability, suitability or availability with respect to the website or the information, products, services, or related graphics contained on the website for any purpose.

Any reliance you place on such information is therefore strictly at your own risk.

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