Many conservatives were aghast when they began reading stories this week alleging that Freedom Alliance, the beneficiary of the Sean Hannity Freedom Concerts, was a scam. The charges leveled by blogger Debbie Schlussel seem to focus on two primary issues. First, that not enough funds are being distributed from the charity in the form of scholarships to the children of fallen troops. Secondly, that the overall percentage allocated to expenses and overhead is too high.
Hannity defenders point out that the scholarship funds are earmarked for college tuition. Consequently, it would only make sense that most of the children of fallen troops would not have yet reached college age, and this would explain the lack of scholarship awards being distributed.
Charities that use premiums to attract donations would naturally have lower percentages of net funds to work with. In this case, giving away a ticket to a theme park that includes a concert with headliners such as Charlie Daniels may not be the most efficient method of raising charitable donations. Would these donors still write checks and forgo the concert? Would Hannity be able to raise more net funds if he simply solicited donations and disbanded the concert concept? These are fair questions that Mr. Hannity may even be contemplating himself after the scrutiny he has been under this week.
Freedom Alliance appears to be upfront about the issue of net funds and has posted the following on the home page of its website:
The Scholarship Fund is designated for the education of children of U.S. service members who have been killed or 100% permanently disabled in an operational mission or training accident. All net proceeds from ticket sales (after musical talent, production, promotion and venue expenses) are donated to the Scholarship Fund, aiding greatly in this effort to assist hundreds of families who have lost their loved ones while they were protecting and defending our nation and our freedoms.
Charity Navigator awards its highest rating (four stars) to Freedom Alliance, but only three stars for efficiency. As to the explosive charge that Hannity uses funds from the charity to fly around on private jets, Schlussel offers little to support this claim.