SF Nonprofit Questions How “Locks of Love” Accounts for Hair

A nonprofit firm in San Francisco says after a long analysis, $6 million of hair donations to the Florida charity, Locks of Love, are unaccounted for.

Kent Chao, founder of Nonprofit Investor, made this proclamation this week on Forbes.com.

Locks of Love, a nonprofit that makes hairpieces for needy kids with medical issues that lead to hair loss, only produced 317 hairpieces in 2011, but should have had enough strands to produce 2,080, according to a report conducted by Nonprofit Investor. Chao didn't indicate that the charity was stealing any money, but rather he challenged the nonprofit to publicly disclose the amount of hair donations it receives, how many are used to produce wigs, how many are thrown out and how many are sold. He also recommended that prospective donors ask more questions for clarity.

MORE:  $6 Million of Hair Donations Unaccounted For

Here is a bit of Chao's post:

Locks of Love receives an estimated 104,000 hair donations per year. Locks indicates that up to 80 % of this hair is unusable and that 6 to 10 hair donations are necessary to make one hairpiece. Based on these numbers sourced from Locks, the charity should produce a minimum of 2,080 hairpieces per year (104,000 hair donations * 20 % usable hair donations / 10 hair donations per hairpiece). However, we’ve confirmed with the charity’s staff that the organization produced only 317 natural hairpieces in 2011. (Its IRS Form 990 figure of “430 wigs” includes synthetic wigs).

Put another way, according to Locks of Love’s statement , 317 natural hairpieces require no more than 3,170 hair donations, meaning that only 3 percentof 104,000 hair donations received make it into a hairpiece, Chao wrote.

In response, Locks of Love - which has long been regarded for taking donated hair and turning it into wigs for children with cancer and other medical conditions - issued a response from president Madonna Coffman, emphatically denying any wrong doing.

"Locks of Love" has for over 15 years and will continue to create the highest quality custom prosthesis for each applicant. This process cannot be initiated or carried out prior to the request and participation of the applicant who completes a mold process, chooses the density, color, length and style of their prosthesis. Our recipients include those with the autoimmune disorder alopecia areata, cancer survivors, burn and trauma victims and any other condition that may result in long term hair loss. To our knowledge we are the only organization that provides a vacuum fitted, custom prosthesis, as opposed to "wigs" that can be mass produced and inventoried until needed.

Our commitment to provide a new prosthesis every 2 years until the age of 21 has given these children back the opportunity to do everything other kids do and not be ostracized or bullied again. While we've reached this, our initial goal, we've made an additional promise to them to be the catalyst to finding a treatment and cure for alopecia areata by providing research funds to date of 2.2 million dollars. We greatly appreciate and applaud our supporters who have helped us make thousands of dreams come true.

False claims based on inaccuracies, fabrications or assumptions will not interfere with our commitment to these families.

Contact Us