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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Education, Elementary & Secondary Schools, Literacy, Special Education

Mission: St. Joseph's Indian School partners with Native American children and families to educate for life - mind, body, heart and spirit.

Target demographics: Native American children and families

Direct beneficiaries per year: 220 Native American children

Geographic areas served: South Dakota

Programs: Residential Care including Food and Clothing, Education, Counseling, Medical Care, College Scholarships

Community Stories

24 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I contacted the charity in Sept 2016 to have my name removed from their mailing list, stating they spend way too much money on fundraising (25%) leaving only 58% for their programs. I stated I would like to see them spend less on fundraising and more on the children.

The chaplain responded stating he would remove my name. He also challenged my statistics with a lengthy explanation on how I was inaccurate. Funny thing is I pulled the data right off their annual report posted right on their website. So in effect this guy was arguing with his own statistics and statistics don't lie.

I contacted him again in March 2017 to inquire why I was still receiving mailings. I told him I'm sure the children would rather he put the money towards them rather than unwanted mailings and postage. Never heard back from him and the junk mail--dream catchers, notepads, stickers, calendars, postcards--continues to bombard my mailbox. The chaplain obviously didn't like the fact I was educated on reading financial statements. So in affect he's going to punish me with his passive aggressive nature by not honoring my request to have my name removed. In the end, the children are the ones that lose. So sad.

Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 04/27/2017

I am sorry that you feel we have ignored your request. If you would give us a call at 800-341-2235 we can certainly get you removed from our mailing list. We receive a lot of mail and things do, at times, get missed. Our cost to raise a dollar for fiscal year 2016 was approximately $.32. Donor development is the process and programs required to find new donors. Because of generous friends, we can reach out to Lakota (Sioux) children and their families since 1927. Admission and all services to Native American children and families has remained free. The average cost is $50,040 per year per child to take care of all individual needs. That breaks down to about $195 per day per child. These costs include the salaries of all the teachers, counselors and support personnel needed to run the school and its programs along with maintenance. We have over 215 students each year, so we need a large staff. Again, please call us if you would like to discuss our finances or want to be removed.

1

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

We received a dreamcatcher and cards in the mail from them...thought it was junk mail. Few weeks later we received a call thanking us for our donation. Called them back to ask what donation they were talking about and they said someone mailed them $35 cash with our name and number. I said I didn't know who would have done that and asked to be removed from their mailing list. Sounds like a scam!

Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 04/10/2017

We apologize that there may have been confusion. We do make thank you calls on a regular basis and sincerely just want to say thank you to those who support our mission. You can certainly give us a call at 1-800-341-2235 if you have concerns or questions. Our school has been open since 1927 and we certainly are not a scam. You may visit our website http://www.stjo.org for further information. St. Joseph’s Indian School is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) regarding our finances and their website is http://coanet.org

27

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Received a phone call from someone asking for myself and husband by name. He proceeded to thank us for our donation to the St Joseph Indian School. We have never made this donation(he wanted to argue the fact) and he seemed to be asking for additional money. I hope that others aren't being preyed on and duped by this scam.

Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 09/19/2016

We apologize that there was any confusion. We make thank you calls on a regular basis. We are not calling for more money, we sincerely just want to say thank you to those who support our mission. You can certainly give us a call at 1-800-341-2235 and clear up any confusion. If you did not make the donation and we some how have your number, we can update that we do not call again.

Review from Guidestar

38

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I have no problem donating to a charitable need, however when I looked St. Joseph's up I immediately saw that this organization either didn't respond to or outright declined a request from the Better Business Bureau. Why? I'm assuming it's because this charity has something to hide. Perhaps St. Joseph's is proud of the money brought in, but not exactly willing to allow an outside entity to analyze how it's being spent? This is a direct quote from the BBB. "BBB encourages charities to disclose accountability information beyond that typically included in financial statements and government filings in order to demonstrate transparency and strengthen public trust in the charitable sector."

Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 09/12/2016

Thank you for your comment. St. Joseph’s Indian School is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) regarding our finances. We believe it is a better use of time and resources to submit to a comprehensive review of our organization, rather than the limited assessment provided by the Better Business Bureau. The evaluation with COA includes visits to the school, interviews with staff and families of the children, and evaluates more than just our finances. More information can be found at www.stjo.org/bbb. You may call us at 1-800-341-2235 and we would be happy to answer any questions you may have.

31 Pascale M.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I find it very offensive to name the school St. Joseph's Indian School. If you know your history, you would know why they are referred to as Indians not natives or their tribal names- story of Columbus. Also the fact that it's run by a priests? This sounds like exploitation to me. Columbus and other settlers brought what they felt is the only true religion and forced it on the natives, then took their land, and disregarded their culture. That's a slap in the face of the natives. The catholic priest is exploiting these kids and gaining from their heritage. Please help the native children retain their culture and identity and let's stop giving to these opportunistic organizations.

Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 08/24/2016

Thank you for your comment. Since 1927, St. Joseph's has served the needs of the Lakota (Sioux) people in South Dakota. The topic of changing the name of our organization has come up in the past. We are grateful to have the input and support of the families and communities we serve in not changing our name at this time. It's also important to know our students are not required to be Catholic to attend. We are blessed to work hand in hand with families who enroll their children at St. Joseph's for a variety of reasons. Additionally, Lakota culture plays a strong role in all aspects of our curriculum with students learning the language, traditions and values of their people from elders and Native American teachers. To learn more about our cultural programs, please visit www.stjo.org/culture.

71

General Member of the Public

Rating: 2

Like perhaps most of you I'm a generous non-profit supporter who gets St Joseph's Indian School mailings. Check out the CNN report. It tells the complicated story of this school with happy-looking children, generic student pleas for help, and a $30 million fundraising budget. I've chosen not to donate.

http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/17/us/south-dakota-indian-school-fundraising-investigation/

Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 08/30/2016

Thank you for your comment. In light of the CNN news story about our school, I want you to know that you didn’t make a mistake in supporting our school. Your gifts were used for actual needs and your impact is making a difference! The stories you read in our mailings are true and we are going to keep serving the Lakota (Sioux) children in our care as we have for over 89 years. Please visit www.stjo.org/cnn for clarification about CNN’s visit to our school and key points they didn’t mention. I thank you for your kind understanding as we deal with this poor representation of our school.

65

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I have donated many years to this organization. They keep sending me 'junk' that I don't want/need...stickers, note pads, cards, address labels, dream catchers, etc...a lot of money could be saved if they would stop this practice and instead spend it on the children, etc
Until I see a full financial statement disclosed I am stopping my contributions.

Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 09/09/2016

We apologize that you do not wish to receive the gifts we send. It is one way of saying thank you to our donors. Anyone may contact us about their mailing preferences and we will honor their wishes. You can review our financial information at www.stjo.org/report.

Review from Guidestar

101

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

Does this Catholic "non-profit" even need donations???? St. Joseph's has over $122 million in assets! Yet it raises over $50 million per year in donations, but spends less than 60% of funds on services. If 60% ($30 million) is actually spent to support the 200 Native American children at the school, each child's annual support is $150,000!!!

St. Joseph's will not report to Give.org. (Better Business Bureau). I give to reputable charities who disclose their donations and expenses to the public at Give.org, Charity Navigator, or similar outside agencies and where over 80% of funds raised go to actual services.

St. Joseph's spends 30% on fundraising, mailing fat packets to potential donors. Do donors really want $15 million per year (30% of $50 million) to support direct mail companies?! The 2015 packet I received contains a Windcatcher (made in China), 3 Christmas cards, an Advent calendar, Christmas gift tags, Christmas stationery seals, 2016 calendar, personalized Certificate of Appreciation, personalized address labels, large notepad and small notepad. Personally, I'd rather see the money spent on books and educational supplies for the children.

Also, even though 50% of the students are NOT Catholic, the administration acknowledges that " we do make our kids go to mass on Sunday." OUTRAGE! How is this different from the indoctrination of the 1920's, forcing Native American children to learn the "white man's religion?"

Hope more people will investigate before giving.
SEE: http://www.give.org/charity-reviews/national/american-indian/st-josephs-indian-school-and-missions-in-chamberlain-sd-675
SEE: http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/17/us/south-dakota-indian-school-fundraising-investigation/
SEE: http://www.charitynavigator.org/index.cfm?bay=content.view&cpid=1209


Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 09/09/2016

St. Joseph’s Indian School is indeed blessed to have had net assets of $153 million as of June 30, 2015. Property, plant, and equipment make up $28 million of that figure and our Annuity Reserve Fund (which is restricted for payments to our charitable gift annuitants) makes up $60 million. Our current assets and investments (less liabilities) are $45 million which will be used to fund future programs at St. Joseph’s, but would also allow us to keep St. Joseph’s operational for two years without our fund raising program. While the argument could be made that $45 million is more than enough for future programs, there’s no guarantee that donors will continue to give to our children and school at the level they have in the past. As a direct mail fund raising program, we know that the number of checks being written is decreasing rapidly, and the U.S. Postal Service is showing signs of insolvency – both very ominous signs for future direct mail efforts. We also do our best to keep costs low. We do have a printing press on our campus and print many of the mailings we send out. Though St. Joseph’s Indian School is affiliated with the Catholic Church through the Priests of the Sacred Heart, we welcome children of all faiths, recognizing the dignity of each human person created in God’s image. Students are not required to be Catholic, and we respect each child’s individual family beliefs. Families record their wishes in their consent packet each year, and the Director of Pastoral Care follows up to confirm those wishes and provide further information when sacramental preparation is requested. St. Joseph’s Indian School is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) regarding our finances. We believe it is a better use of time and resources to submit to a comprehensive review of our organization. Please visit http://www.stjo.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=9199 for more information.

64

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I have also done research and am VERY concerned about this organization. I see reviews here that folks who donate say that the school is doing a great job with the kids and to trust them. Fine. But why can they not be open about their finances? What have they to hide?

The simple financial calculations are these: They raise $50 million a year or more per year through their mass mailings. They have 200 kids in their school. At the finest boarding schools in the country tuition tops out in the $40,000 range with all the perks. That means that that they should be able to run this school for $8million. If they spend half of what they receive on mailing materials and postage that would be $25 million to the advertising companies. That the still leaves 17 million per year unaccounted for.

Bottom line: This is clearly a scam.

Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 09/12/2016

St. Joseph’s Indian School is indeed blessed to have had net assets of $153 million as of June 30, 2015. Property, plant, and equipment make up $28 million of that figure and our Annuity Reserve Fund (which is restricted for payments to our charitable gift annuitants) makes up $60 million. Our current assets and investments (less liabilities) are $45 million which will be used to fund future programs at St. Joseph’s, but would also allow us to keep St. Joseph’s operational for two years without our fund raising program. While the argument could be made that $45 million is more than enough for future programs, there’s no guarantee that donors will continue to give to our children and school at the level they have in the past. As a direct mail fund raising program, we know that the number of checks being written is decreasing rapidly, and the U.S. Postal Service is showing signs of insolvency – both very ominous signs for future direct mail efforts. The average cost is $57,138 per year per child to take care of all individual needs. That breaks down to about $226 per day per child. These costs include the salaries of all the teachers, counselors and support personnel needed to run the school and its programs along with maintenance. We have over 200 students each year, so we need a large staff. St. Joseph's also operates outreach programs on three reservations. We have a shelter for battered women, provide counseling services, run soup kitchens, maintain and run thrift stores and other service programs to help the Native American people. Please call us if you have any questions at 1-800-341-2235.

51

General Member of the Public

Rating: 1

I looked into this charity, saw that there are no ratings from multiple charity rating organizations that I hold in high esteem, so there is no breakdown of their financials (religious organization that doesn't need to disclose this) and how they spend their donations/fund raising. Also found this :

http://www.cnn.com/2014/11/17/us/south-dakota-indian-school-fundraising-investigation/

Make your own decision. Based on all this information, I personally will not donate to them.

Comments ( 1 )

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stjo1927 09/12/2016

St. Joseph’s Indian School is accredited by the Council on Accreditation (COA) regarding our finances. We believe it is a better use of time and resources to submit to a comprehensive review of our organization, rather than the limited assessment provided by the Better Business Bureau. The evaluation with COA includes visits to the school, interviews with staff and families of the children, and evaluates more than just our finances. More information can be found at www.stjo.org/bbb. On November 11, 2014 we had an unexpected visit from CNN, the global cable television network based in Atlanta and New York City. A senior producer and senior investigative correspondent for the Anderson Cooper 360 program were in Chamberlain to write a report on our most recent fundraising appeal to support our mission of serving Lakota children. We are always happy to share our work and our mission. We are proud to carry on St. Joseph’s mission, which is made possible through your generous gifts. As we do with all our visitors, we gave them a tour of our campus homes; the Akta Lakota Museum and Cultural Center; and the recreation center. They had a real opportunity to see the children and many of the programs available to them because of our donors support. Much to our disappointment, CNN showed little interest in the Lakota students and were generally dismissive of the programs and services we provide to help them. They clearly had another agenda: to gather negative information for a story they had already written and to place our faith-based organization in the worst possible light. We want you to know the facts and assure you that our mission to serve is unwavering despite this negative story. We want you to know that your decision to support St. Joseph’s Indian School demonstrates sound judgment regardless of how CNN has tried to portray us. To set the record straight, we took it upon ourselves to fact check the CNN story. Here is what we found:  CNN: “Stories of fake students. Josh Little Bear is not a true person.” FALSE: The stories we share in our mailings are based on real situations. However, in order to protect the privacy of the children, we do not use their real names in our letters to supporters. CNN’s argument rests on saying the stories are made up. We repeatedly explained this to the executive producer, but he refused to listen.  CNN: “On the advice of their attorney, the school refused any further comment.” FALSE: Though we did not consent to an on-camera interview, we did offer, several times, to answer any questions they had in writing. Disappointingly, CNN did not submit such questions. We knew the messages in a taped interview would be taken out of context, exactly as they intentionally did with our mailings.  CNN: “St. Joseph’s Indian school continues to rake in a small fortune in donations.” The onscreen graphic showed $122,185,395. FALSE: This misleading figure shown in the story is the sum of our total assets. This includes a school building for grades 1-8; twenty homes where the children live; the acreage our campus resides on; vehicles; investment funds for our gift annuitants and other items.  CNN: “The fact is that the money is being used for the right reasons. Two hundred Native American children are going to this boarding school, they seem happy, well-fed and housed.” TRUE: CNN got this part of the story correct. And for that we are grateful.