What does the BBB say about Priests for Life?

With all the controversy surrounding Priests for Life right now, I thought it might be interesting to see what the Better Business Bureau Charity Review has to say about them.

The BBB looks at how charities run, where the money goes, and whether or not the agencies operate efficiently.   They can tell you, for example, how much of each dollar goes to programs.

What did it have to say about Priests for Life?

Despite written BBB Wise Giving Alliance requests in the past year, this organization either has not responded to Alliance requests for information or has declined to be evaluated in relation to the Alliance’s Standards for Charity Accountability. While participation in the Alliance’s charity review efforts is voluntary, the Alliance believes that failure to participate may demonstrate a lack of commitment to transparency. Without the requested information, the Alliance cannot determine if this charity adheres to the Standards for Charity Accountability. A charity’s willing disclosure of information beyond that typically included in its financial statements and government filings is, in the Alliance’s view, an expression of openness that strengthens public trust in the charitable sector.

Out of curiosity, I checked another place, Charity Navigator, which had a little more information, though the most recent year available is 2008.

It noted that 63.9% of money raised went to programs.  23.4% went to administration.  And 12.5% went to fundraising.  PFL got a very low efficiency rating of one star.

Comments

  1. Max Lindenman says:

    Very interesting, Greg, and very helpful. No, it’s not anywhere near as much fun as sex or drugs, but for the moment, itll have to do.

  2. Manny says:

    Oh that’s not a good ratio from Charity Navigator. I don’t think they’re a good value.

  3. Greta says:

    Not sure I would place all that much emphasis based on these two organizations. I think PFL is a far different organizations trying a lot of different things to try to save lives and often does not want to have it get out where they might be spending their money. Some of these organizations that evaluate charities are very supportive of planned parenthood. I know that Father Pavone has been very cautious about who gets a look at what is spent outside of PFL because of this strategic need. One example that is well known now but was not when it started was purchasing ultrasound systems for pregnancy centers and providing free ultrasound to women who were thinking about abortion and to get a lot of ultrasound results to begin showing babies in various stages of life. Had this got out early, PFL believes that much pressure would have been put on the manufacturers not to support this effort and costs would have skyrocketed. The used a third party to buy the products and hire the technical expertiese to hide this intent as long as possible.

    It is also why they were not eager to open their books inside the Church as some dioceses have staff who is not supportive of the efforts of PFL who they see as hurting the democratic party on the abortion issue. I think more on this will come out as the story gains momentum, but most of it will be managed behind the scenes. Look for PFL to flow directly to the Vatican or to a dioceses that PFL can work with easily and remain protected. PFL is not supportive of either political party, but since the democrats are always for abortion remaining legal and supported, they face the brunt of the PFL efforts with regard to elections and getting pro life congress people and presidents in every larger numbers to stop the holocaust.

  4. Greta says:

    And in our Cincinnati parish of St Gertrude, we are blessed with several Dominicans who also teach at the local seminary as well as to the novices in their first year in the parish.

    Here is one who also serves in the Angelic Warfare Confraternity which started around the year 1400. Take a look..

    http://richleonardi.blogspot.com/2011/09/angelic-warfare-and-muscular.html

    In talking with Father Cole on PFL, he said he believed that there is a very strong battle going on with Satan around PFL at this time because of the good work they are doing.

  5. Debra says:

    That isn’t a good rating, they say to check before gving and I am leary of any charity that doesn’t want their numbers out there.
    Just because a charity is for a good cause, doesn’t mean it is run well..there is a lot of hard work and know-how to that.

    I like (when I could afford it) to give to some religous charities like Franciscan Friars of the Renewal, Sisters For LIfe and EWTN, and children’s charities that are rated well.

    It’s hard but a business can grow too quickly and anyone who fund raises like they do…something just isn’t right.

  6. Serafino says:

    According to Father’s Canon lawyer, full financial disclosure was made to the Board of Bishops who are associated with PFL as well as Father’s ordinary. (Bishop) Independent financial audits have given PFL a very high grade. Secondly, the code of canon law, which is the only protection a priest has against an abusive bishop states that priests maintain the canonical right to appeal to Rome. Father Pavone was informed by his bishop that if he availed himself of this right, he would be suspended from all priestly ministry! In my opinion, any bishop who seeks to deny a priest’s rights under the law, cannot be trusted.

  7. SamAdams says:

    Not to knock Fr. Frank, but he has two choices. Either be a priest or don’t be one. He thinks he can easily jump to another diocese to be incardinated so he can live his independence. That is a big sign of pride (in the sinful sense) right there. In his mind, he is his own bishop. I am sorry but full-time pro-life work and being a priest does not go together. Sure, priests can be pro-life, be part of a parish pro-life committee and even pray in front of abortion mills but priests have to focus on being priests and not striving to be something they are not. Other wise, leave the priesthood.

  8. HMS says:

    Serafino:

    “Father Pavone was informed by his bishop that if he availed himself of this right, he would be suspended from all priestly ministry!”

    Will you share your source of this information?

  9. jan says:

    wondering, who will be the first one to spill the beans about pfl?

  10. Rudy says:

    Let’s make mince meat of Father Pavone. This is the open hunting season of the quarter, let’s shred him to pieces, destroy his reputation, grab any piece of information and use it to make this worse and worse.

  11. naturgesetz says:

    Rudy,

    Let’s just ignore the facts, and we’ll all be much happier.

  12. David says:

    SamAdams, you miss the point.

    If the bishop made an agreement with me to let me do Priests For Life full-time, then renegged, I would leave to another diocese as well. If Father Pravone has it in writing, he should release it, to point this out. If the Bishop made no such guarantee and has proof of that, he should release that as well.

    I have advice for Father Provone from having been in business for over twenty years and human resources for over 9 years: Get everything in writing. If they will not give it to you in writing, they are not people of honor. Do no agreements with such people.

  13. Miriam says:

    I just checked Food for the poor.

    http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=search.summary&orgid=3714

    Four stars, they are very highly rated. Good to know that the money we give goes where it is supposed to go.

  14. Rudy says:

    Facts seem irrelevant and scarce in this matter. If anyone has proof of financial fraud and mismanagement they should come forward and show it. Otherwise this seems to me a fight for power over hurt feelings and clash of personalities. With all due respect, bur there are no “facts” in destroying a person.

  15. Raymond says:

    Another negative and unhelpful blog in a consistently useless and irrelevant forum. I would ask brother Deacon to please ask BBB for their feelings on the Pope and The Vatican while he is at it. God bless us all. Why New Advent supports this fluff continues a surprise to me !! Raymond

  16. Martha Roy says:

    I don’t believe it is case of Father Frank wanting to be a priest or not he is doing a priest’s work.He is an excellent speaker the Holy Spirit is allover him he gives homilies to millions if preaching is not apriest’s work I don’t know what is. Thou shalt not kill ,he is asking people to obey the 10 commandments. Babies are alive and being Murderd Sam,God is the author of life people are killing Him how can you say Father Frank is not doing the work ofa priest?God bless You!

  17. What about Father Pavone?

    At one time I worked with up-and-coming DJ Don Imus at a radio station in Sacramento. Although Don and I have not spoken for years, I tend to follow a bit of his newsworthiness.

    Since we two collaborated in THE 70s, Don has become famous, engendered the ill-will of one Hillary Clinton and founded a ranch for disabled children in the Southwest.

    The reason for grouping fame, Hillary and the ranch is the idea that, when someone is out to get you, he can usually find a way, often by unexpected means.

    In Don’s case someone persuaded the IRS to investigated the nonprofit records of Don’s ranch. The someone learned that the ranch was a good nonprofit and doing its work well; however, Don and his wife lived in the ranch house rent-free some a few weeks each year. The someone through the IRS threatened the nonprofit status of the ranch unless Don paid rent to the nonprofit corporation for the use of the ranch house when he was there. News reports intimated that Don was corrupt.

    One can see an enemy’s work in the IRS investigation. The enemy is obvious and she shall go unnamed.

    Father Pavone has a much more powerful enemy, whose name is Satan. The work that Fr. Pavone does is successful and is helping toward elimination of legal baby-killing known as abortion. It would serve an enemy’s best interests to remove the good priest from his work.

    Thus, as in Don’s case, the enemy has use alleged mis-handling of finances, or at best mis-handling of the transparency of financial records for his purpose. It is intimated that Fr. Pavone is a crook.

    The enemy is intelligent but has a weak spot. It is YOU and your prayers. You are asked to use your weapon of prayer on behalf of Father Pavone.

  18. william harcourt says:

    Raymond has it exactly right.
    Since when is the BBB the final word on the operation of a ministry? By BBB’s standards Planned Parenthood is the most credible organization in America. Even Charity Navigator’s evaluation of an organization is entirely on the basis of externals such as fund allocation and development. It has nothing to say about the kingdom value of the work.

    [Comment edited to remove threat against the moderator. -- Ed.]

  19. Achilles says:

    Have we really become so terribly stupid that a rating from two secular and scientific groups are the basis for our moral judgement?
    This really is a pathetic barometer and an embarasing expression of what we have allowed ourselves to become.
    We should remember what Fr. does. If there is wrong doing it will be uncovered, if this is just politics, than we are fools.

  20. BobStl says:

    Please note that the fine Boys Town of Nebraska, the one Mickey Rooney helped make famous, went through a similar review in the 1970s. A local newspaper investigated and found that it had millions in reserves and was asking for millions more in repeated solicitations. After the paper printed its findings, the charity eventually expanded its mission and did a better job of serving the children it was intended to help. Sometimes, charities need a review, and sometimes forget that it’s not the institution that needs the money, but the people the organization is trying to serve. The Nebraska paper, the Sun Newspapers of Omaha, won a Pulitzer Prize in 1973 for its work. Here is a Time magazine article from 1974 on the changes:
    http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,879438,00.html

  21. Deacon Greg Kandra says:

    Achilles et al…

    To be clear: nobody is disputing that Priests For Life does extraordinary work that is saving lives, raising awareness, and changing hearts. The mission, effectiveness and moral standing of PFL is not in question.

    But according to diocesan officials in Amarillo, there are concerns about whether this organization is doing it in manner that is fiscally responsible and sufficiently transparent. When objectively measured against other charities, those concerns appear to be justified. Hopefully, PFL can address these questions promptly, and this matter can be resolved to everyone’s satisfaction.

    Dcn. G.

  22. Rudy says:

    In this case it seems that the work of the Priests for Life is secondary to the personal dislike and the personality clash of bishop and priest (as said before, more of the bishop in my opinion). Too bad the work of saving babies from abortion comes second. I just don’t believe the accusations of financial crookedness. If they are proven, let it be, but there are no facts about that. As for the obedience of Fr. Pavone, he is back in Amarillo in obedience, but he is not a walking mat either.

  23. Deacon G says:

    Charity Navigator and BBB follow the money that is donated directly to those being served . It is easy to track money sent to Food for the Poor etc. because they are direct recipients of the funds . The babies killed through abortion are not able to spend any funds . The people working on the ground for PFL need to make a living . The work they are doing along with other so called”radical ” pro -life groups are taking the heart of our nation back to the point that a majority now believe abortion is wrong . Don’t let satan win this battle in the life war . The malignant one is behind this .

  24. Boanerges says:

    First Fr. Euteneuer, then Fr. Corapi and now Fr. Pavone. What about St. Louis De Montfort fighting with bar- goers? What about St. Padre Pio being “uncharitable” to those not confessing all their sins? What about St. Athanasius punching out Aruis?

    As always, satan is at work and has accomplices inside the Church.

  25. Achilles says:

    Deacon Greg et al.

    I don’t know Fr. Pavone very well, I have heard him on EWTN and I understand his wonderful work. It breaks my heart to think, as Rudy mentions, that we Catholics, like a motley crowd, have hoisted this technical matter and relatively unimportant matter above perhaps the most significant moral crime of our time, the murder of our most innocent and precious brothers and sisters.

    If Father Frank is some raging narcissist with a plot to steal everyone’s money and fly to Tahiti, then maybe we need to enlist the BBB and those other clowns with an algorithm to assess efficiency (eerily socialists) maybe even join forces with planned parenthood to rid ourselves of a notorious crook that has been hiding behind this noble charity. But if this is really is the smoke and mirrors of Satan and not so serious, than we must take it as a sign that we have things terribly out of order.
    I for one will hold my judgment on the good father until something worthwhile is proven against him. I find organizations like the BBB or any other institutions that scientifically reduce the good the true and the beautiful to some tangible formula, abhorrent and anti-human. Certainly Fr. Pavone and PLI have a responsibility to its contributors to be fiscally prudent but I suspect that he knows this better than most of us and if he has acted in bad faith he will have to answer to our Father. Involving weights and measures of the secular world is a bad idea for us Catholics.

  26. Boanerges says:

    Since your sunday offering is your first line charity, check their “efficiency”. I’ll bet their ratios aren’t too good either.

  27. Achilles says:

    I meant to write “PFL” of course.

  28. CyndieUlrich says:

    To Fr. William E. Bauer:
    Thank you for sharing the example of your journey with Mr. Imus AND for your wise and peace-filled counsel. I agree with you completely, Sir.

    To Everyone:
    Please… let’s take a moment to remind ourselves that blogs are venues of public dialogue.

    As you share herein, also remember that news agencies regularly review blogs under the guise of a search for “public opinion” (in this blog’s case, the media will construe this as “general Catholic opinion”).

    Is this the venue, or type of venue, through which you/we wish to feed the voracious appetite of the media…voracious appetites compelled by reporting deadlines of minutes, not even hours?

    In addition, several other respondents on this blog, have wisely reminded us that:
    1) we have the “up-to-the-moment” facts before we comment;
    2) that we should always be wary and continue ask questions of reviewing/judging organizations including, but not limited to, the BBB and Charity Navigator.
    3) we are not in control here….GOD IS.
    4) I suggest we should all be in prayer right now and for the foreseeable future regarding the issue at hand: the Church, it’s spiritual leaders, Fr. Pavone, PFL, the Bishop, etc…

    I can guarantee you, by dinner time tonight (I’m in the PDT zone), the media will be having a field day with this issue.
    With the “spin-meister” reporting methods used, the outcomes of social opinion will not be of benefit to anyone or any part of the Church. . .so we all might want to be careful we stick to finding the truth and not get caught in the mudslinging production created by the media.

    Please join me in prayer. . . loads of prayer. ~Cyndie

  29. John says:

    The Priests for Life organization is headquartered in New York. It is not an association in Amarillo so why does the Bishop there he can demand to see their records. Despite Fr. Pavone being its National Director I’m sure he is not solely responsible for its financial outlays.

    In regard to a comment about how PFL is careful how it releases its financials I will give this story. When the Cathedral of St. Paul in Minnesota was planned Archbishop Ireland had to buy up properties on the future site through discrete means. He couldn’t let it become known that the Church was planning to build the Cathedral there or the residents would have jacked up their prices. So private individuals purchased the properties no doubt with funds from the Archdiocese. What would have happened if someone demanded that the Archdiocese opened its books?

  30. CyndieUlrich says:

    The Deacon’s initial post to this thread showed up 15 minutes ago on a GoogleAlert news search I requested just 1-1/4 hours ago.

    “”"What does the BBB say about Priests for Life?
    Patheos
    With all the controversy surrounding Priests for Life right now, I thought it might be interesting to see what the Better Business Bureau Charity Review has to say about them. The BBB looks at how charities run, where the money goes, and whether or not …See all stories on this topic »”"”

    In the bigger picture, let’s all be careful that the words we use aren’t open to use as game pieces on Satan’s chessboard, eh? Blessings, everyone!

  31. Jim McCartney says:

    What’s the point of this posting ? Tell me when the Church hierarchy (read US Bishops) will actually stand up and Effectively combat this evil. If the institutional Church would dedicate more energy to standing up for the unborn, by taking to the streets like Pavone’s group, maybe the tide of this evil would be turned. In fact, reading the NYC abortion numbers, nearly equal to the amount of live births, it’s clear that the church has failed to lead on this issue. Give us more groups like Priests for Life in the Church !
    Jim McCartney, former religion chair, Archdiocese of NY HS

  32. rosemarie kury says:

    I have been giving large amounts to “Priests of Life” and was always wondering why they seemed to want more. Although we don’t know the whole story, I don’t believe we should continually blame the Bishops! They after all were appointed by the Pope, and although some of them may appear not to be so good, I don’t believe that we should be “dissing” them this way.

    I’m sure the whole story hasn’t been told, and there may be failings on both sides. But if there’s been unintentional fraud or spending by the Priests for Life, perhaps they need to appoint a board composed of laity that oversees this. The said thing is, is this is a blow on pro-life efforts, and our Church again will be suffering greatly.

    We must pray for them all. St. Michael please pray for our Church.

  33. Joel says:

    Dear All,

    The least we can do is protest!
    Please do so, benedict.xvi@vatican.va

    September 13, 2011

    Dear Pope Benedict,

    I am deeply disappointed that Bishop Zurek of Amarillo, Texas, has ordered Fr. Frank Pavone, Priests for Life, to return to the diocese of Amarillo and remain there. Stopping this necessary and vital pro-life work is a black mark for our Catholic Church in America.

    Please issue a statement immediately affirming that canon law of the Catholic Church, because Fr. Pavone has begun a process of appeal to the Vatican, the Bishop’s order that he return to Amarillo has been effectively suspended. Any delay damages respect for our Catholic Church.

    May the Holy Spirit guide you!

  34. Joyce says:

    Being a 501(c)(3) organization, Priests for Life is required to file IRS form 990, available to the public. The most recent available online is 2008, which can be downloaded from the National Center for Charitable Statistics, as well as from Guidestar. More recent form 990s are available directly from Priests for Life on request.

    I work for a nonprofit in Development (fundraising), and there was nothing that jumped out as suspicious. Of course, given the nature of the ministry, complete transparency is clearly not possible or advisable. But knowing what a grueling process it is to do the audits and file the 990s, I doubt the level of malfeasance strongly hinted at is justified.

    This whole thing smacks of an agenda that has nothing to do with finances.

  35. Rudy says:

    There are many pro-abortion people inside many diocesan chanceries that would be very glad if organizations like PFL would cease to function and priests like Father Pavone would just shut up.

  36. HMS says:

    Every now and then I watch the 12 noon mass on EWTN. It just so happened that I tuned in this past Wednesday, September 13, feast of St. John Chrysostom, known for his powerful homilies (which could antagonize both clergy and the wealthy in Constantinople). Fr. Pavone was the celebrant of the Mass. It was interesting to me that at the end of the Mass he made a point of saying that Priests for Life has always supported the bishops, reiterating a few of the points he made in his response to Bishop Zurek’s letter.

    I have just noticed that Fr. Pavone’s homily on that day is posted on the Priests for Life website.

  37. jeanie says:

    I won’t judge Fr. Pavone but my experience with Priests for Life certainly reflects its apparently low BBB rating.
    After contributing for a period of time I began to get multiple mailings every month in plain, no-name envelopes cleverly designed to suggest either official government documents, credit card solicitations, or even greeting cards or personal letters. These anonymous mailings, all looked different — but open them up, and every one was another Fr. Pavone/PFL appeal for money.
    I wrote to PFL to say I considered this to be a deceptive tactic and unworthy of that organization’s mission. I never received a reply and the deceptive mailings kept coming.
    So it wasn’t difficult to decide to shift the money to other Catholic organizations. But what a sad development, given the honorable history of PFL — and Fr. Pavone.

  38. HMS says:

    Addendum to my comment #36:

    The homily of Fr. Pavone that I said was posted on the Priests for Life website has now been changed from the September 13 to the September 11 homily. (Actually, right now, it is a misprint – it is the homily he delivered on September 9). Seems to me that, under the present circumstances, perhaps it is better that the Epistle reading for September 13 (1 Timothy 3:1-13) not be read on this website.

    “Beloved, this saying is trustworthy:
    whoever aspires to the office of bishop desires a noble task.
    Therefore, a bishop must be irreproachable,
    married only once, temperate, self-controlled,
    decent, hospitable, able to teach,
    not a drunkard, not aggressive, but gentle,
    not contentious, not a lover of money.”

  39. Fiergenholt says:

    Rudy

    “There are many pro-abortion people inside many diocesan chanceries that would be very glad if organizations like PFL would cease to function and priests like Father Pavone would just shut up.”

    OK prove it!

  40. Ryan says:

    This is a complete shame. PFL is an organization that makes a difference in the lives of unborn children. Father Frank is an inspiration to others. PFL has been audited by several independent auditors and are proven to be financially responsible. It seems to me, that if the Bishop had serious concerns about the finances of PFL and Father Franks affiliation with any financial irresponsibility, he should have investigated this issue before he would make such serious accusations. Even against Father Frank should have been settled privately.

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