Skip to main content

Minnesotans donated $3M to Kars4Kids, but charity only spent $11,600 here

Lori Swanson says Kars4Kids doesn't make clear how it spends its donations.
  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

Minnesota's Attorney General has criticized well-known car donation charity Kars4Kids, accusing it of giving a false impression of how much donated money it spends on charitable programs.

AG Lori Swanson found that between 2012 and 2014, more than $3 million was donated by Minnesotans to the nonprofit known for its catchy radio jingle, yet just $11,600 was spent on programs in the state during that same period.

She accuses the charity of failing to disclose where most of its donations are spent, after finding that the majority of money raised by Kars4Kids was being used to promote Orthodox Judaism to Jewish children in New York and New Jersey.

A compliance report published by her office on Thursday has been forwarded to the Internal Revenue Service, which has the power to investigate and potentially revoke the tax-exempt status of any charitable organization.

Here are some of the concerns Swanson has raised about Kars4Kids.

– Kars4Kids acts as the fundraising arm for New Jersey-based Oorah Inc. Of the $87.8 million in proceeds from 160,000 donated vehicles Kars4Kids received between 2012 and 2014, $40 million went to Oorah. Kars4Kids only spent $3 million on other charitable activity, including the $11,600 in Minnesota.

– Oorah uses the money to promote Orthodox Judaism primarily in New Jersey and New York. Swanson says Kars4Kids radio, TV and internet adverts do not disclose that its charitable funds are being used in this way.

– As of March 2015, only three Minnesota children had taken part in Oorah's summer camp and tuition assistance programs.

– Kars4Kids is failing to monitor the management of its money. Between 2007 and 2014, Oorah and Kars4Kids lost $9.7 million in donations on real estate projects that went bankrupt or foreclosed.

– It fails to disclose how much of its donations are actually spent on advertising and overheads. The report found less than 44 percent of the organization's donations were used for charitable purposes.

In a statement sent out with the report, Swanson said: "Donors need accurate and straightforward information to make informed choices. We hope this report sheds greater transparency on Kars4Kids, one of the nation’s largest vehicle donation programs."

Next Up

Wilf

Report: Ryan Poles is Vikings' 'top choice' for general manager

Poles was one of two finalists revealed on Friday.

Payton Willis

Willis carries shorthanded Gophers to beat Rutgers

The senior scored a career-high 32 points to end a four-game losing streak.

MARCUS ALEXANDER STEICHEN

Charges: St. Paul man had sexual contact 'multiple times' with 12-year-old girl

Marcus Steichen, 21, is charged with first-degree criminal sexual conduct.

Screen Shot 2020-08-14 at 6.45.53 PM

Charges: Mom killed infant son just weeks after getting him back from foster care

The 10-month-old died in her care in Brooklyn Park last April.

Flickr - police lights squad siren - Edward Kimmel

Arrests made following fentanyl bust in St. Cloud

Authorities searched two St. Cloud apartments Friday morning.

potatoes 2

Minnesota's 'frozen potato freeway' closure attracts plenty of comment

It was, let's face it, a very Minnesotan reason for a freeway closure.

Screen Shot 2022-01-21 at 9.07.54 AM

U of M fraternity raises money for chef's knee surgery

The GoFundMe has raised around $1,700 of its $5,000 goal.

unsplash restaurant cashier register COVID face mask - crop

7 restaurant, bar groups sue Minneapolis over dining vaccine mandate

"Minneapolis bars and restaurants are being used as pawns..." the lawsuit said.

Screen Shot 2022-01-22 at 7.47.53 AM

Woman fatally shot in St. Paul's North End neighborhood

It's the fourth homicide so far this year in St. Paul.

Wild

Wild flip the script, dominate Blackhawks

Ryan Hartman scored twice to earn the first game of a back-to-back.

Hopkins Basketball

Hopkins suffers rare loss to No. 1 ranked Sidwell Friends

The Royals held their own in a battle of the nation's best.

argue-wertman booking photos

Charges: 2 teens responsible for violent carjacking spree across Twin Cities

They face a combined 31 felony counts, all tied to carjackings and related crimes.

Related

Keith Ellison

Alleged scam charity group banned from soliciting donations in MN

Minnesota AG Keith Ellison joined the FTC and three other state AGs in suing the group.

The DIVI Up charity app is shutting down after 3 years in business

The app gave users deals to save money at select restaurants, stores and businesses – with a cut then going to charity.

Colin Kaepernick makes $25K donation to N. Minneapolis food nonprofit

A Minneapolis nonprofit that uses food to drive social change has caught the eye of the San Francisco 49ers quarterback.

As climate changes, Minnesotans are more at risk from Lyme disease, flooding

Minnesota is not making enough progress reducing greenhouse gas emissions, a report says.

Play this March bracket and help charities be winners

It's competitive way to give to local nonprofits.

Play this March bracket and help charities be winners

It's competitive way to give to local nonprofits.