GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is in the hot seat after a dismal score from the American Institute of Philanthropy (AIP). The AIP Charity Guide and Watchdog Report gave MADD a "D" rating on a A-F scale in its 2010 report.
According to AIP and the American Beverage Institute, MADD received its score because of poor fund raising and accusations that it doesn't focus on victim services as much as it should.
Laura Mills' daughter Elizabeth was killed by a drunk driver nearly 10 years ago, and she was shocked and upset by the downgraded score.
"I can't believe that something so important is not being treated the way a lot of us felt it was being treated, or should be treated," Mills said.
Based on the AIP Charity Rating Guide, MADD got such a low score because of its poor fundraising and spending practices.
According to the American Beverage Institute, in 2008 MADD spent almost $30 million on salaries, leaving just a third of its budget, or $15 million, for charitable work and victim services.
"It breaks my heart to know MADD has been downgraded to a 'D' and that monies aren't going where they should be going," Mills said.
Mills remembers Elizabeth as a compassionate girl who loved to compete in pageants. In the years since her death, Mills has organized local pageants in memory of her daughter with proceeds going to MADD.
"That way we could continue doing our part with money coming from something she enjoyed," Mills said.
Although the downgraded rating has raised some questions for her, Mills said she will not let it stop her from being an advocate against drunk driving.
"If things don't change or if they're going in a different direction then I will find a different way to deal with the loss that I have," Mills added. "It's really important to me that I get out there and do something, because if I don't, who will?"
In response to the downgraded rating from the AIP Watchdog Report, MADD's national office released the following statement:
"Our focus on drunk driving, underage drinking and victim services is stronger than ever. While methodologies for determining efficiency differ, we are proud to invest more than three fourths of our funds in programs to support people and save lives and continue to streamline our efforts to be fiscally responsible. Like many, we've experienced challenging economic times. Although we have saved almost 300,000 lives and counting, the problem of underage drinking and drunk driving is far from solved. This simply means we need the public's assistance now more than ever."
The American Beverage Institute is a restaurant trade association that claims it's committed to the responsible serving of adult beverages.