Occasionally I have to go with my gut feeling, which is why I contribute to Hazon Yeshaya. But usually I refrain from giving to a charity that does not practice transparency. Nor will I give to one such as Chai Lifeline that has what I consider to be excessive salaries for their officers.
In my current pile of tzedakah envelopes is one for "Tikvah Layeled - The Foundation for Cerebral Palsy Children in Israel". I have contributed to them in the past and decided to update my information. Guidestar did have Form 990 information on them, and I found some curious details there. Here is the top of page 3 :
The first interesting thing is that their stated purpose is "Support of Jewish Religious Education". HUH? I thought I was supporting an organization to help children in Israel that had cerebral palsy! Now take a look at who they are distributing money to. Let's leave the major recipient aside for the moment.
It isn't easy to figure out who the other recipients are, but here is my best information:
Kahal Adas Yereim - Viener shulIt appears, then, that a substantial amount (almost 40%) goes to various chassidic shuls and yeshivot. Perhaps they give money to these institutions for the benefit of members with disabled children???
Cong. Ner Baruch - congregation in Boro Park?
Gmach Ezer - gemach in Boro Park?
Cong. Kahal Torah Chaim - Viznitz yeshivah ($100,000!)
Tzedakah V'Chesed - too generic to determine
Cong. Givat Shaul - Bialer Rebbe's shul
Cong. Kehillah Yaakov (there's a shul in Cleveland Heights, but I doubt that this is the one)
EMI - not a clue
Kollel Shomrei Hachomos - Edah HaChareidis charity in Israel
The Cheder - too generic
And what about the other 60% - $355,000 - that goes to Tikvah Layeled in Israel? There is only a handful of web articles regarding their work with cerebral palsy. The organization was started by Zvi Braitstein, a man with a child afflicted by CP, and the list of endorsers is not your typical hareidi list of rabbonim - it consists of physicians in both the US and Israel. But seeing as the US foundation is apparently not on the up and up with its recipients (that is, their mailing says nothing about these other groups, nor does it state that its goal is "Jewish education"), is it possible that the Israel organization is likewise diverting money to groups that ostensibly have nothing to do with cerebral palsy?
One other tidbit. They are apparently obfuscating their real address. While the mailing says "322 West 52nd Street, PO Box 1097", and a Google street view shows that this is the location of a post office in Manhattan. The 990 form, however, has an address in Boro Park. On it, Zvi Braitstein is listed as a director as "Rabbi Tzvi Braitstein". (At least it says that he - and the other directors - get $0 salary!)
I will be more than happy to post a followup that says that my suspicions are unfounded (as an aside, no one took me up on my similar offer regarding Chai Lifeline!) I'd like to be dan l'kaf zechus, but without going into the sordid details, we all know that there is good reason for cynicism these days.
In the meantime, Tikvah Layeled is on my S*** list!