Yesterday a thread was started about the fact that the Watchtower wanted funds allocated to the organization itself for remembrance work. Thus far I cannot determine that this ever happened but what is known is that funds were disbursed to JW holocaust survivors in Central, Eastern Europe as well as Russia.
Here are some notes on the organization which the Watchtower started for this purpose.
The information below comes from a project I am working on:
Appendix D: Some notes on the JWHESF tax reporting from 2001-2005
1995, fifty years after the end of World War II, the World Jewish
Congress started a massive class action lawsuit against Swiss banks
regarding bank accounts that had been indefinitely held since the end
of the war. In
November 2000 a settlement plan was announced under which 1.25
billion dollars would be distributed to surviving holocaust victims.
The funds would be controlled
and dispersed by the Jewish Banking Trust. Jehovah's Witnesses were
identified as possible recipients and eventually 1876
were assisted through the Humanitarian Support Program (HSP) which
was tasked with distributing the funds and
needed services. The HSP preferred assisting the recipients with food
aid, medical assistance,
financial assistance. The Watchtower organization started a fund
called the Jehovah's
Witness Holocaust-Era Survivor Fund (JWHESF)
to handle the final distribution to their recipients and the HSP
subsequently identified the JWHESF as a distribution partner. Between
2001 and 2005 the funds were allocated and disbursed.
The 2006 Humanitarian Support Program report indicated that “The JWHESF [Jehovah's Witness Holocaust-Era Survivor Fund] relied on its network of local bethels (church centres) and volunteers for the implementation of two consecutive projects over a three-year period...The programme benefited from substantial input by Jehovah’s Witness community members that was not charged to the programme. The efforts of these 'volunteers' helped keep administrative project costs among the lowest in [the] HSP. Nevertheless, the lack of administrative funds allocated by [the] IOM’s partner to its country teams also contributed to making the regularity of their work, reporting and follow-up with beneficiaries problematic.”
So what the above paragraph means is that the ordinary witnesses in the recipient countries bore most of the expenses too keep costs as low as possible and to therefore maximize the benefits to the recipients. The volunteers gathered the names and details of the survivors in their area and then sent it to their countries branch office (Bethels) where the information would be compiled. These witness volunteers also did the in person and telephone follow ups with the recipients and thereafter the reporting. The Humanitarian Support Program (HSP) was very particular in this regard in that it would not release the next round of funds to any of its partners unless the reporting was in order.
As quoted earlier the HSP pointed out one specific area that could have been improved upon and that was that the JWHESF denied any funds to the country teams. This meant telephone calls and travel expenditure was defrayed to the individual witness volunteers which made the follow-ups dependent upon each individuals personal budget. It therefore made reporting irregular. The organization itself did not have this problem and substantially charged general administrative expenditure for its own volunteers in the USA to maintain efficiency. The expenditure accounted for 6% of the total funds available over the period of the program*.
* 990 forms for the Tax years 2001 to 2005 for Jehovah's Witness Holocaust-Era Survivors Fund, Inc. The JWHESF personnel did not receive any salaries for their work except for some professional fees that were charged. Charges were made for materials and equipment, internet usage, telephone, travel, postage etc. The volunteer witnesses did not have the opportunity to recoup their expenditures such as travel costs, phone bills and postage.
The cost breakdown between 2001 and 2005 for the JWHESF is as follows:
Total funds received: $911 356
General Administrative costs: $54 871 (6% of total funds received)
Total funds available for recipients: $856 485
Total recipients benefited: 1876
Average amount per recipient received: Approximately $456
The only expenditure charged by the JWHESF program that seems out of the ordinary occurred in the last year of HSP fund distribution in 2005. The JWHESF indicated in its accomplishments that its functions were that recipients were identified and that "Funds were disbursed." The identification was done through the Branch offices and volunteers, compiled and forwarded to the JWHESF at no cost. The JWHESF then dispersed the funds in blocks to the Bethel Branch office accounts in the various recipient countries where the funds would have been allocated according to each individuals needs. As shown in the HSP report the Branch Offices and volunteers could not charge any costs to JWHESF for the final distribution to the recipients.
So it comes as a surprise that in 2005 the JWHESF charges $16 141 for postage and shipping. Between 2001 and 2004 postage and shipping only accounted for $635. The bulk of the funds ($782 546) were received and disbursed during that period. In 2005 $128 810 was received and disbursed using the same previous methods but now $16 141 was spent on postage and shipping.
It could not have been fund dispersal (the posting of cheques) directly to the recipients as there is no indication that any methodology changed in 2005. Also the HSP preferred assisting recipients directly through items such as food, winter and medical assistance and as previously stated any associated costs were left to the Branch offices and volunteers. Only 12.5% of recipients received direct emergency financial support.
The $16 141 printing and shipping expenditure could not have been the costs involved in sending a final comprehensive report to each recipient via post seeing as there was no printing costs indicated in the 2005 tax return. In previous years printing costs had been indicated so it was not a cost the organization would defray. It is unclear why postage and packaging costs had increased so significantly in 2005.
Another small matter of interest is that in the 2003 tax report the following question was asked: “80a Is the organization related (other than by association with a statewide or nationwide organization) through common membership, governing bodies, trustees, officers, etc. to any other exempt or nonexempt organization?”
On the form the response was indicated as No. If it was answered Yes the organizations that these individuals were connected with had to be indicated. In the 2003 list of officers of the organization the following names appear: James Pelechia, Daniel Bland, Max Custer anc Jolene Chu. Daniel Bland is a director of the Watch Tower Bible and Tract Society of Pennsylvania. James Pelechia was the associate editor of Watch Tower publications and director of public affairs. Max Custer and Jolene Chu are both on the Watchtower corporations legal team. Over the years all other individuals listed as representatives of the JWHESF have ties to Watchtower related organizations. It is unclear why they omit to state these connections when it is actually quite plainly stated in the name of the organization itself. Possibly a simple oversight.
The last item discussed is also just an interesting curiosity. In the 2004 JWHESF tax report, the Swiss Vogel foundation contributed $49 900 for a specific project to be carried out by the Jehovah's Witness Holocaust Era Survivors Fund. The Vogel foundation was Alfred Vogel's who was already diseased by 2004 but which continued his legacy. Since the 1930's Vogel was a Naturopath and Phytologist. He had started a company called Bioforce AG which until today still produces Naturopathic remedies and which are distributed around the world, including the USA. The most well known is a cold remedy called Echinaforce.
Vogel was also a Jehovah's Witness and a personal source who knew him informed me that he also claimed to be part of the “anointed” group of Jehovah's Witnesses. Thus Vogel and his legacy foundation would have had very personal reasons to contribute to the JWHESF fund. Seeing as the nature of the assistance to the recipients was mostly material in nature, it could be speculated that the Vogel Foundation wanted to assist the elderly recipients through the provision of Naturopathic remedies. The project (whatever it may have entailed) was not initiated by the JWHESF and so the Vogel foundation asked for the funds to be returned.
990 form reports for organizations exempt from income tax for the Jehovah's Witness Holocaust-Era Survivors Fund for the years 2001,2002,2003,2004,2005
The 2006 Final Report on Assistance to Needy, Elderly compiled by the Humanitarian Support Program which is part of the International Organization for Migration under the subsection Jehovah's Witness Survivors
Essay: Alfred Vogel (1902–1996) as an example of the development of non-physician naturopathy – especially phytotherapy – in Switzerland by Jörg Melzer, Christian Kleemann, Reinhard Saller - Institute of Complementary Medicine, Dept. of Internal Medicine, University Hospital Zurich, Switzerland