Philanthropic Donations Come From the Heart -- Where Do They End Up?

Ex-Money Manager Says 'Enough!' to Secretive Christian Ministry Spending


Philanthropists donate money to Christian charitable organizations under the assumption that their money will be spent on good. But some of those organizations don't reveal what they spend that money on. The mansion above -- one of two controlled by Trinity Broadcasting's Paul and Jan Crouch -- is worth a reported $6 million. (ABC News)


March 23, 2007 — Anyone watching televangelists on television will hear plenty of pitches for money. Jan and Paul Crouch of Trinity Broadcasting say they need big bucks to keep their network on the air and to help the poor around the world.

Benny Hinn, of Benny Hinn Ministries, has made heartfelt pleas to help the people of Calcutta, while Rod Parsley of Breakthrough Ministries has asked for help to spread the gospel to the people of Nepal.

Christian ministries and charities promise to do all kinds of good things with your money, and that makes donors feel great about sending in their checks. The problem is, they can't always find out exactly how their donation is being spent.

A Life of Charity … and Luxury

The givers are very confident that they will. One parishioner told ABC News that "when I give to this church, I know that my money's being put to excellent use. Without one question." While her pastor, Fred Price of Ever Increasing Faith Ministries, does support inner city programs with donors' money, she's apparently not bothered when he also boasts that "I live in a 25-room mansion, I have my own $6 million yacht, I have my own private jet and I have my own helicopter and I have seven luxury automobiles."

At least he tells his parishioners about all this wealth, but many preachers don't advertise how well they live.

The popular Kenneth Copeland of Kenneth Copeland Ministries lives in a large mansion in Texas. He recently asked his audience to help him spread the gospel by giving him $20 million to buy a new jet. Copeland promised that the plane "will never, ever be used as long as it is in our care, for anything other than what is becoming to you, Lord Jesus."

Our ABC affiliate in Dallas, WFAA, took a closer look. Reporter Brett Shipp obtained flight records that revealed that the Copeland jet, on its way to an evangelical seminar in Australia last October, made a two-day layover in Maui. Then it was on to the Fiji islands for another stop.

After seven days in Australia, the Copelands headed to Honolulu for another three days of what they called "eating and rest."

Last December, amid other evangelical stops, the jet made the first of two trips to a Colorado airport, just a few miles away from Steamboat Springs Ski Resort.

And, finally, there was a flight to southwest Texas to a hunting ranch where the Copelands have bagged exotic game over the years. (Click here for the full WFAA story on Copeland.)