Feed the Children: No longer a billion dollar charity

Written By Producer Christopher Scholl

The troubled Oklahoma City-based charity Feed the Children has slashed its reported annual income by more than half for 2010. CBS News investigative correspondent Sharyl Attkisson exposed extensive problems at the charity in a CBS News Investigation, including unrelated allegations of financial impropriety and conflicts of interest raised in lawsuits between the charity's founder and its board of directors.

Now, the charity is reporting a dramatic drop in the value of its donations, down from $1.2 billion in 2009 to just $538 million for 2010. The change comes partly due to a change in accounting methods.

Critics have long argued that Feed the Children inflated the value of donations it receives, which gave the appearance that it was one of the top grossing charities in the nation.

The charity told the Daily Oklahoman it has adopted a "fair value" accounting standard in valuing donated deworming tablets. It distributes about a million of those tablets each year. Feed the Children's interim president, Cass Wheeler, told the Oklahoman the change is an effort by the charity to be more transparent and accountable.

"We're continuing the good work that the organization does," Wheeler told the newspaper. "And that's what's important. It's not calling ourselves a billion dollar organization. It's the work that we do. It's the impact we have."

Cash donations also dropped last year. Feed the Children reported just $94 million in cash for 2010 - down 26 percent from $127 million the previous year. The charity pointed to a cutback in televised fundraising and the economy to explain the drop in cash gifts.

Among the charity's problems previously reported by CBS News was the firing of its founder, Larry Jones, the familiar television face of the organization for 30 years. That firing led to suits and countersuits between Feed the Children, Jones, and family members involved with the charity.

  • CBS Investigates

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