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Jul-28-2010 00:32printcomments

Mothers Against Drunk Driving Downgraded to a 'D' Charity Rating Guide

Poor Fundraising Practices and Too Little Focus on Victim Services Earn MADD Low Grade.

MADD gets a 'D' rating.
MADD gets a 'D' rating.

(WASHINGTON D.C.) - The American Institute of Philanthropy’s (AIP) Charity Rating Guide & Watchdog Report has downgraded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) to a “D” rating on a A-F scale in its August 2010 report.

“Under the leadership of CEO Chuck Hurley, MADD further diminished its focus on victim services and educating Americans about the dangers of drunk driving, instead pushing anti-drinking, anti-alcohol public policies,” said American Beverage Institute (ABI) Managing Director Sarah Longwell. “The public needs to realize that MADD isn’t the same group it was 20 years ago.”

MADD has consistently received low ratings from the Charity Rating Guide due to its poor fundraising and spending practices.

According to the AIP, it should cost most charities $35 or less to raise $100. In some years, MADD has spent nearly double that amount. The AIP also says most highly efficient charities are able to spend 75 percent or more of total expenses on charitable programs. In some years, MADD has spent as little as 57 percent on programs. In 2008, MADD spent almost $30 million on salaries and fundraising, leaving just 1/3 of its budget available for charitable work and victim services.

Another charitable giving guide, Charity Navigator, gives MADD an overall rating of 1 out of 4 stars. Charity Navigator reserves this embarrassing basement-level for a charity that “fails to meet industry standards.”

During Hurley’s tenure at MADD, the organization’s revenue declined while Hurley and other officers and directors saw their salaries increase - a whopping 56 percent. In contrast, MADD’s revenue declined nearly one-quarter over the same period. And MADD’s spending on community programs—what a charity should be about—dropped by 17 percent. In 2009, MADD had to lay off 50 employees nationwide—15 percent of its workforce—a move that cut much of the organization’s victim advocacy work.

These financial changes reveal a shift in MADD’s mission. In the words of its own founder Candy Lightner: MADD has become far more neo-prohibitionist than I had ever wanted or envisioned … I didn't start MADD to deal with alcohol. I started MADD to deal with the issue of drunk driving.

Longwell continued: “MADD’s anti-alcohol agenda includes advocating for alcohol detectors in all cars, sobriety checkpoints and sky-high alcohol taxes. By spending on these new priorities, MADD has diverted money from programs created to help the victims of drunk driving and get dangerous drunk drivers off the roads.”


The American Beverage Institute is an association of restaurants committed to the responsible serving of adult beverages. To learn more visit:

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.


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