Tags: ALS | ice-bucket challenge | charity | nonprofit

Only 28 Percent of ALS Ice Bucket Donations Used For Research

Image: Only 28 Percent of ALS Ice Bucket Donations Used For Research Manager Bruce Bochy of the San Francisco Giants takes the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge after the game against the Washington Nationals on Aug. 22 in Washington, D.C. (Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

By Greg Richter   |   Sunday, 31 Aug 2014 11:17 AM

The "ice bucket challenge" to raise support for ALS research has gone viral in recent weeks, drawing celebrities, everyday people and even cartoon character Homer Simpson But critics are now saying only a fraction of the money raised is actually going toward research.

The ALS Association was founded in 1985 to find a cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as "Lou Gehrig’s Disease." So far, almost $100 million has been raised through the ice bucket challenge.

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But critics point to a pie chart on the ALS Association's own website that breaks down how it spends the money it receives. According to the chart, 28 percent is spent on research.

Other expenditures include 19 percent for patient and community services, 32 percent for public and professional education, 14 percent on fundraising and seven percent on administration.

NeoNettle.com notes that the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability, a Christian charity watchdog group founded by the Rev. Billy Graham, sets an 80 percent standard.

A column on the website Quartz defends the percentages, saying that research alone is not the goal of the ALS Association. When percentages spent on public and professional education and patient and community services is added, the magic number of 80 percent is achieved.

The ALS Association has changed the percentage spent on research from 27 to 28 percent after criticism emerged, explaining on its website that rounding had originally given a total of only 99 percent.

Quartz also defended the ALS Association against criticism of its executive pay. Though several top executives receive six-figure salaries, their pay is not out of line with similar charities, it said.

But the website Health Impact News noted that the $1.9 million on the pie chart spent on administration doesn't cover all employee salaries.

Under "other salaries and wages," the group listed $3.6 million. They also reflected another half million was spent on pension plans and employee benefits and non-employee labor costs $4 million. Travel expenses topped $1.3 million.

Salaries of top ALS Foundation executives:

Name Title Salary
Jane H. Gilbert President and CEO $339,475
Daniel M. Reznikov Chief Financial Officer $201,260
Steve Gibson Chief Public Policy Officer $182,862
Kimberly Maginnis Chief of Care Services Officer $160,646
Lance Slaughter Chief Chapter Relations and Development Officer $152,692
Michelle Keegan Chief Development Officer $178,744
John Applegate Association Finance Officer $118,730
David Moses Director of Planned Giving $112, 509
Carrie Munk Chief Communications and Marketing Officer $142,875
Patrick Wildman Director of Public Policy $112,358
Kathi Kromer Director of State Advocacy $110,661

Source: healthimpactnews.com

That put total labor costs at $12.5 million out of $24 million in income, Health Impact News reported.

The website also notes that since the ALS Association's founding, it has yet to find a cure for the disease. It also leans heavily toward pharmaceuticals while ignoring other possible treatments, the site said.

The ice bucket challenge also has come under fire from pro-life groups because embryonic stem cells are used during research.

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