Locks of Love is tangled in scandal. According to a new report from watchdog group Nonprofit Investor (NPI), the West Palm Beach-based charity–which collects human hair to make custom-fitted hair prosthesis for children suffering from medical hair loss–can’t account for $6 million worth of follicle donations.
Here’s how it breaks down. Every year, says NPI, LoL gets enough hair to make 2,080 wigs. That number is based on estimates LoL representatives shared with media outlets in the past about how it gets 104,000 donations a year, roughly 20% of which are suitable for repurposing, due to issues with length and coloring.
Yet, in 2011, Locks of Love made just 317 of its natural hairpieces. That leaves 1,763 hairpieces unaccounted for, which NPI values at $6.6 million, based on manufacturing costs and retail value of other natural hair wigs.
(MORE: Inside Win: A Non-Profit Site Wins a Pulitzer for Its Environmental Reporting)
When NPI showed LoL those findings earlier this year, the charity stated that it “does not count, catalogue nor maintain lists of hair donations,” as NPI founded Kent Chao explained on Forbes.com. In response to the published report, LoL President Madonna Coffman told ABC News: “I don’t know what the purpose would be to count hair donations. We made 317 that year because we had 317 requests. Some of the donated hair is sold to finance the making of its custom wigs. The unused hair stays in inventory until a request comes in.”
NPI has since started a Reddit chat for past and potential donors, recommending they ask specifically about how their hair will be used. Other organizations that accept donated hair include Wigs for Kids, Children with Hair Loss, Pantene Beautiful Lengths, and Wigs 4 Kids, though LoL—whose celebrity donors include Russell Crowe, Ann Curry, and Portia de Rossi—has always been the most prominent.
MORE: Nonprofit ScriptEd NYC Teaches Coding to Underprivileged Students