Hold onto your ponytails: A new report alleges that Locks of Love — a well-known charity that makes wigs for children suffering from medical hair loss — has disclosure inadequacies that could total up to $6 million annually.
Locks of Love reportedly receives around 104,000 hair donations per year to make “hair prosthetics,” according to the report by Nonprofit Investor, an organisation that evaluates charities.
That should be enough to produce around 2,080 hairpieces, taking into account that 80% of donated hair can’t be used (too short, grey, or bleached) and it takes six to 10 donations to make a Locks of Love wig.
But in 2011, Locks of Love made just 317 of its custom-fitted wigs, according to Nonprofit Investor.
If that’s true, a whole lot of hair is unaccounted for.
Nonprofit Investor notes that since the retail value of each wig is between $3,500 and $6,000, according to Locks of Love’s own calculation, the unaccounted hair could be worth some $6.6 million.
Locks of Love says on its website that it sells unusable hair to offset manufacturing costs.
But the nonprofit only disclosed $572,997 worth of hair sold on its 2011 income tax return, which still leaves over $6 million of hair missing from its public records, Nonprofit Investor notes.
Nonprofit Investor acknowledged in its report that it had a hard time finding exact figures for Locks of Love donations: It arrived at the 104,000 donations-per-year estimate from a 2004 USA Today article in which a former executive director said the charity received between 2,000 and 3,000 donations each week.
The exact per cent of hair that goes unused is also unclear. 80% is an estimate a source told The New York Times in 2007, and Locks of Love again did not counter with a different figure. The charity also denied to Nonprofit Investor that there are 104,000 donations a year, but did not give another figure, the report said.
Locks of Love did not respond to our specific questions, but released the following statement from President Madonna Coffman: “To our knowledge we are the only organisation that provides a vacuum fitted, custom prosthesis, as opposed to ‘wig'” that can be mass produced and inventoried until needed. False claims based on inaccuracies, fabrications or assumptions will not interfere with our commitment to these families.”
Nonprofit Investor notes that of the 62 nonprofits it has reviewed, this is the first time it has given a poor rating for disclosure inadequacies.
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