Samaritan’s Purse was founded in 1970 and is headquartered in Boone, North Carolina. The current president and CEO, as well as chair of the board is Franklin Graham. Samaritan’s Purse’s program includes disaster recovery and relief, medical support and supplies, as well as its most well-known program Operation Christmas Child.
- 89.5 percent use on program delivery
- Award winning
In 2015, Samaritan’s Purse spent $38,971,587 of its annual revenue on fundraising.
Most charity watchdog organizations expect charities to use an average of 70 percent or more of its annual revenue for program delivery. In 2015, Samaritan’s Purse used 89.5 percent of its revenue for program delivery.
Samaritan’s Purse was recognized by the Liberian government on the country’s independence day. They were awarded the Global Image award and Officer Grade of the Order of the Star of Africa award for its role in assisting the Liberian government in its recent Ebola outbreak. Samaritan’s Purse was the only international organization which was recognized with these prestigious awards in 2015.
2006 and 2015
Samaritan’s Purse received Webby awards for its audio/visual communications. In 2006, the Webby was awarded to the organization for the best nonprofit/charitable organization category. Samaritan’s Purse’s winning presentation in 2015 was for a piece about the Sudanese people, entitled, “South Sudan – The Heartbeat of the Innocents.”
- Past financial data is not available
- Expensive administrative expenses
- Negative press
Samaritan’s Purse does not publish financial data from past years on its website. Figures for 2014 and 2015 are available on the organization’s consolidated financial statements and the IRS Form 990. Basic financial data for 2011–2013 is published by Charity Navigator.
In 2015, Samaritan’s Purse used $23,643,532 for administrative expenses. Of that, $572,145 was spent on Franklin Graham’s salary. This is equivalent to 2.4 percent of the organization’s expenses. Franklin Graham has been reported to have received salary from his father’s organization of near the same amount, which is related to Samaritan’s Purse. After the first allegation of his salary from both organizations, a space of a few years passed with Mr. Graham not receiving a reported salary from his father’s organization, which was resumed in 2012.
Accessible Financial Information
Samaritan’s Purse publishes financial information on its website; however, the organization does not publish its annual report or financial information from past years. This demonstrates a general lack of financial transparency.
Most of the external criticism for Samaritan’s Purse falls under one of two categories: the organization’s most well-known program, Operation Christmas Child, or about its current President and CEO, Franklin Graham.
Operation Christmas Child
Since 1990, Samaritan’s Purse has asked for donations of shoeboxes filled with items for children in developing countries to share at Christmas. This program has been wildly successful, as millions have worked to participate in the call. Operation Christmas Child, while popular, has been a source of several criticisms. Some allege that the proselytizing work which goes along with the boxes is unethical or against their personal beliefs. Others are not aware of the addition of materials which are religious in nature, specifically promoting the ministry of Franklin Graham and his well-known father, Billy Graham.
Others have alleged that the program itself is flawed and undermines the local economies of the developing countries by taking possible business away from local and smaller shops. Some reports state that the toys and trinkets included in the boxes are things which the children don’t need or are otherwise culturally insignificant.
Finally, perhaps the most serious criticism of the program comes with allegations that it is covertly racist, with boxes showing a variety of children printed upon them, with stereotypical images of children of color. Some even suggest that the program itself is flawed in that it does not promote independence,but a dependency on outside help.
There are many who do not agree with Franklin Graham’s (or his father’s) interpretation of Christianity; however, there are more serious issues which have plagued Samaritan’s Purse. Franklin Graham has posted anti-Muslim statements on his personal Facebook page, calling for an end to all Muslim immigration. He has also been quoted speaking anti-Muslim rhetoric, describing the religion as “wicked,” and “violent”.
Many people object to the large salaries that leaders of charitable organizations receive. Franklin Graham has been reported to be drawing two large salaries, one from Samaritan’s Purse and the other from his father’s ministry, with the combined total being over $1 million. His salary from Samaritan’s Purse is considerably higher than leaders in other charitable organizations.
Donors receive regular email and postal mail updates, usually additional fundraising requests. There are several people who have complained about the repeated solicitations from Samaritan’s Purse. In fact, the only complaint which has been filed with the Wise Giving Alliance involved repeated attempts by an individual to remove their information from the organization’s mailing lists which were unsuccessful. Samaritan’s Purse maintains social media accounts with Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and LinkedIn.
Independent charity watchdog, Charity Navigator, has rated Samaritan’s Purse with four out of a possible four stars. They also earned an overall score of 98.23 out of 100 for its financial disclosure and accountability.