The Evangelical aid organization Samaritan’s Purse has been called out recently over what critics say is a questionable spending pattern.
Sarah Einselen of The Roys Report writes that the charity is bringing in more money than it is giving out in emergency aid, raising the suspicion of donors. Charities that take in more than they spend are not automatically a problem, and a six-month reserve of cash on hand can be necessary to respond to emergencies. However, some worry that Samaritan’s Purse executives are using donated money for causes unrelated to charity.
Public documents show Samaritan’s Purse has spent hundreds of millions less than it raised in recent years and has amassed assets exceeding a billion dollars. This massive reserve is raising red flags among nonprofit experts and charity watchdogs. They say nonprofit groups are supposed to use their funds to fund their mission, not fill their bank accounts.
According to Samaritan’s Purse’s IRS Form 990 for 2020, the organization brought in $894 million in total revenue in the 2020 fiscal year and spent only $670 million—a $224 million difference.
In 2021, the difference was starker. The organization headed by Billy Graham’s son, Franklin Graham, brought in over a billion dollars, according to its audited financial statements. But Samaritan’s Purse spent just $715 million—almost $300 million less than it received.
The audited financials also show Samaritan’s Purse ended 2021 with over $1.2 billion in net assets. Nearly half of that was in cash or cash equivalents.
Andy Rowell, a ministry leadership professor at Bethel Seminary, recently called attention to the organization’s apparent profits on Twitter.
In an interview with The Roys Report, Rowell said, “I think I would, as a donor, want to know—how is it that there are emergencies all the time that are crucial in our world and you’ve seen fit to save that much money?”