Touting the low overhead of Church World Services and other denominational organizations that don’t advertise, columnist Tom Holmes wrote on Jan. 20 “… up to 90 percent … will go to the Haitian people,” while suggesting “others like World Vision have to advertise” so that “… up to 50 cents of the dollar you donate goes to advertising and administration.”

He added, “Nothing against the Red Cross or Bill Clinton’s organization, but if you want to get the biggest bang for your charitable buck, go with one of these [denominational] agencies.”

However the data suggest there is not much difference in program expenses (percent of donations left after administration and advertising) between denominational and non-denominational agencies cited in his article.

A little online research yields the following program expenses:

American Red Cross 91.5 percent

Clinton Foundation 83.4 percent

World Vision 86.5 percent

Church World Services 82.7 percent.

Some other denominational agencies in the Bread for the World list mentioned in the article are:

Catholic Relief Services 93 percent

Lutheran World Relief 91 percent

Baptist World Aid 91 percent.

Specifically World Vision, Red Cross and Clinton are nowhere near the 50 percent that might be inferred by Holmes’ language.

Doctors without Borders, also known as Médecins Sans Frontières or MSF in some recent news reports, comes in at 85.7 percent. MSF won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1999.

Note: data from, and

Frank Hansen
Forest Park