COLUMN: A Cautionary Tale

What exactly are the 'Planet Aid' boxes?

Another point of controversy is Planet Aid’s relationship to questionable parent organizations, e.g. Humana People to People (not to be confused with Humana, Inc., the healthcare organization), and to alleged Danish international cult leader Amdi Petersen. Quite a large dossier has been collected on Mr. Petersen at least since 2002 when the Danish government charged Petersen and his associates with fraud and money laundering. Petersen became a fugitive, but, he and his associates were finally acquitted. However, as of August 2013, new charges have been raised against Petersen and his organization named TVIND, for questionable financial transaction with China.

Planet Aid renounces rumors of its connection with TVIND, claiming that fewer than two percent of Planet Aid members are also members of TVIND.

For over a decade now, Planet Aid has operated under a shadow of controversy, but has managed to survive as a legitimate nonprofit 501(3)c organization. Their filings, which are public documents, reveal that in 2011 Planet Aid took in $37,297,986 and donated 9,858,693, or 26 percent, to projects and organizations overseas. The bulk of the funds, about 73 percent, went to overhead.

Certainly the businesses, schools and churches who host Planet Aid collection share none of Planet Aids criticisms. Donors to the boxes cite the convenience, and preference to throwing items away. Others, once informed of the nature of Planet Aid’s activities feel misled and deceived about the use of the donated items.

The information for this story is gleaned from secondary sources, namely news organizations who have reported on Planet Aid, TVIND, and Amdi Peterson. Only the filed 501 (3)(c) financial report is a primary source. The take away from this “Cautionary Tale” is just that, caution.

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