Do you know how much salary money is going to the people running the charities that hit you up for money?

The nonprofit organization Charity Watch says “high salaries should not signal a red light to not give just as low salaries should not signal a green light to give. Charity salary levels ought to be based on the skill necessary to forward the work of the organization.”

If a charity cannot compete with private business for a competent manager and fundraiser, it may die.

This website is the place to go to check into the finances of charitable organizations. 

It would be nice if competent people would say “I don’t care so much about the money, I want to help my community.” But salary talks. The non-profit University of Hawaii pays more for its medical and law school chiefs than for its president, who gets $375,000.

If a non-profit doesn’t pay enough, the good people go elsewhere. So maybe the big salary isn’t over-payment if a person can lead and bring in six times that salary in donations and grants.

Hawaii had a history of bad oversight of charities because all the records of fundraising, expenses, salaries and dispersal of funds were not in one accessible place. Now, they are computerized and available online. I’ll show you where later.

Here are sample reports that local non-profits filed for top leaders’ salaries. I’ve shown “other employees” payments where the CEO works gratis.

Aloha United Way for 2014 (IRS extension granted for 2015 filing.) CEO Cindy Adams $71,022; chief operating officer Norman Baker $114,218; chief financial officer Linda Nelson $109,457; fundraiser Pamela Maeda $113,714; outgoing CEO Kim Gennaula Hagi $107,607.

• Foodbank of Hawaii. President and CEO Dick Grimm $166,000

• Hawaii Community Foundation. Kelvin Taketa $353,248. (Click here to see the full list of salaries and expenses.

• Catholic Charities Hawaii. (Last filing was 2013.) Chairman Christopher Dang  $00.00. CEO Jerome Rauckhorst $182,017; assistant secretary Edward Ontai $108,022; vice president Stella Wong $102,399; assistant vice president Tina Andrade $110,163.

• Make A Wish Foundation. CEO David Williams $303,193

• Easter Seals Hawaii. Christopher Blanchard $153,911

• Waikiki Health. Sheila Beckham  $182,007

• PATCH. (Last filing 2013.) CEO Davis Todani $00.00. Kathy Chen, executive director, $99,390.

• Hawaiian Humane Society. Pamela Burns $167,852

• Human Services Institute. Connie Mitchell $118,371.

You can look up any local charity at:

Also, most charities pay advisers and various experts. The Hawaii Community Foundation pays million-dollar fees to banks to handle its money, but it also takes in about $30 million a year.

So maybe you need to be a CEO yourself or an accountant to judge if the intake and programs justify those salaries and fees.

You can access all that basic material on the filing form, Summary Part 1, lines 8 (contributions) and 15 (total salaries and benefits.)

You should consider how much the charity pulls in versus what it pays its principals and others. And how much of each dollar goes to programs rather than administration.

One example: Disabled American Veterans Charitable Service Trust spends 96 percent of its budget on vets. But the Wounded Warrior Project, which regularly makes phone solicitations here, spends only 60 percent of its donations on vets.

That’s a pathetic return for the dollars you give that latter “charity.”

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