Few things are as near and dear to the heart of a nonprofit executive than third-party charity ratings. These independent evaluations of stability and financial practices can make or break an organization’s public image (and its ability to keep raising additional funds).

So, deep in the heart of Texas, someone must be hopping mad(d). The Irving, TX-based Mothers Against Drunk Driving received a C-minus grade from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP) in its July 2002 Charity Rating Guide and Watchdog Report. AIP noted that MADD made it difficult for outsiders to discern how much is being raked off by professional fundraisers, and speculated that the group could be spending as much as 39 cents out of every dollar just to keep additional funds rolling in. At that rate, MADD may have burned as much as $18.3 million of the public’s contributions in 2000 alone, by paying companies to raise more money!

This is an organization whose mission and tactics used to be above reproach. But drunk-driving fatality rates declined by 57 percent in the 1990s, and now MADD has begun focusing its scorn on responsible drinkers, even those who choose to have a glass or two of wine while eating out. Its latest target is the “habitual drinking driver” – more commonly known as a regular restaurant patron who has a drink or two with dinner.