By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Look before you give

Yesterday the Salem News published an enterprising story on Andrew Mandell, a.k.a. “Mr. Diabetes,” whose endless walk was taking him through the North Shore. The News’ Alan Burke reported that 74 percent of the money that Mandell raises for his Defeat Diabetes Foundation is spent on Mandell’s $90,000-plus compensation package and for further fundraising.

Margo Casey, an official with the North Shore United Way, called that percentage “extreme,” and told Burke: “That’s very, very high in terms of fundraising costs.”

Today the Globe runs a nice little feature on Mandell, with no mention of his fundraising practices.

Here is the zero-star Charity Navigator rating to which Burke refers. Mandell’s Web site says that he recently succeeded in getting the Massachusetts Senate to honor him. He’s also selling “Special Diabetes Commemorative Ornaments” with this come-on: “A large portion of the proceeds go directly to Defeat Diabetes Foundation.” Well, yes. But isn’t that the problem?

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  1. Anonymous

    Talk about the pot calling the kettle black! The United Way is notorious for its high overhead costs. Anyone looking for a real charity should turn instead to the Salvation Army. Ironically, information on the North Shore United Way isn’t even listed in that database, so there’s no way to look at its numbers. But the United Way of Central Massachusetts and the United Way of Massachusetts Bay each gets a two star rating from that site.

  2. MeTheSheeple

    This reminded me of some actions of the American Cancer Society. Nearly every newspaper in America will do an annual feature story on the “Relay for Life.” That fund-raising event has been recorded as an expense because it involves publicity and outreach. This guy, of course, argues he’s raising awareness.One chapter of the ACS had 95 percent overhead. Unfortunately, charities are often not reported upon critically. When they are, sometimes it’s misreported — see this doozy of a correction that still doesn’t fix all the problems.

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