Locks of Love

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A 2007 'hair donation day' at the American Aviano Air Base in Italy

Locks of Love is a non-profit charity based in the United States. The organization accepts donations of human hair and money with the stated intention of making wigs for Canadian and American children in need due to medical conditions that have caused them to permanently lose their hair.


Girl donating her hair

Locks of Love was originally connected to a for-profit retailer. The charity attained 501(c)(3) Status in December 1997 under the leadership of Madonna W. Coffman (Coffman had suffered from alopecia in her 20s, and her daughter lost all of her hair to the condition at age 4).[1] By September 2006, Locks of Love had provided about 2,000 wigs to recipients for free.[2]

Locks of Love representatives are frequent guests on The Oprah Winfrey Show and other daytime television shows, where they provide haircuts to guests and audience members. The organization was formed to help children with several conditions that cause hair loss, including alopecia, burn trauma, and cancer treatment. Most of their wigs go to children with alopecia, although cancer patients come in second. The wigs are provided free of charge. Some children choose to sponsor Locks of Love inside of school and donate their hair when it is long enough.[3]

Tax deductions[edit]

As the hair is considered to be a body part and is analogous to blood, any hair donations are not tax deductible according to IRS guidelines; however, financial donations are deductible.[4]


Locks of Love has received criticism of poor accountability practices. Forbes and The Huffington Post report that up to US$6 million of hair donations are unaccounted for by the charity each year.[5][6]

Marc Owens, the former director of the tax-exempt division of the IRS stated that, "there are just so many omissions, that it's hard to say for certain that any of the data on the return is accurate."[7]

According to its tax returns, Locks of Love made $1.9 million from hair sales from 2001 to 2006, and took in another $3.4 million in donations. Besides paying for wigs, the money goes to overhead and other costs, including grants for alopecia research. Locks of Love sends the best of the hair it receives to a wig manufacturer, Taylormade Hair Replacement in Millbrae, California, which sorts the selection still further, rejecting up to half.[2] Very little of donated hair then ends up in the wigs. The other donated hair is sold for profit, supposedly to pay for the manufacturing process and to raise funds for the organization's activities.

Locks of Love emailed a statement to The Huffington Post, but did not address the claim.[8]

2015 Form 990 Reporting[edit]

According to the IRS Form 990, mandatory for all US non-profits, in 2015 Locks of Love[9]

Total Expenses $1,389,468
Grants & Benefits paid $500,030
Efficiency (funds directed to purpose) 35.9%

The only grant paid was to Columbia University, New York, for research. $579,125 is listed as "Other expenses" and is not defined on the Form 990.

Only 259 wigs or hairpieces were provided to children at a cost of $127,127. The organization also paid for a four-day camp for 15 children and one parent (Part III, item 4a).

Notable donors[edit]

Sunita L. Williams (background) and Joan E. Higginbotham (foreground) in the International Space Station's Destiny laboratory. The hair did not clog the instrument panel, as was feared.

After launching aboard the Shuttle Discovery, Astronaut Sunita Williams arranged to donate her pony tail to Locks of Love. Fellow astronaut Joan Higginbotham cut her hair aboard the International Space Station and the ponytail was brought back to Earth by the STS-116 crew.[10]

All American football player (and Chicago Bears first-round draft pick) Gabe Carimi's maternal uncle suffered from leukemia as a child, underwent chemotherapy while he was in second grade, and lost his hair in the process. At nine years old, his uncle died. He was mentioned often in family discussions.[11] Carimi thought he would do something "that wouldn't take a lot of my time but would help other people." He grew his hair for 20 months, until it was long enough in 2010 to donate to Locks of Love.[11]

Professional wrestler The Honky Tonk Man has stated that he donates his hair to Locks of Love once a year. [12]

National Hockey League player George Parros has grown his hair long since the start of his professional hockey career, so he can donate it to Locks of Love.[13]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "History". Locks of Love. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  2. ^ a b Elizabeth Hayt (September 6, 2007). "Lather, Rinse, Donate". The New York Times. Retrieved March 11, 2012.
  3. ^ "FAQ". Locks of Love. Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  4. ^ "2010 Publication 526" (PDF). Retrieved June 1, 2011.
  5. ^ Chao, Kent (May 13, 2013). "Locks Of Love: $6 Million Of Hair Donations Unaccounted For Each Year". Forbes. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  6. ^ Goldberg, Eleanor (May 14, 2013). "Locks Of Love Has More Than $6 Million Worth Of Donated Hair That Is Unaccounted For: Report". The Huffington Post. Retrieved April 21, 2014.
  7. ^ "Bay Area Group Questions Donations To Locks Of Love". CBS SF Bay Area. Retrieved 15 May 2013.
  8. ^ The Huffington Post
  9. ^ Form 990 downloaded from http://www.locksoflove.org/about/
  10. ^ CollectSpace.com (2006-12-20). "Astronaut cuts her hair in space for charity". CollectSpace.com. Retrieved 2007-06-08.
  11. ^ a b Brian Mason (April 23, 2010). "Lots of locks means lots of love from Carimi; Wisconsin senior donates hair to charity aimed at improving life for ill children". UWBadgers.com. Archived from the original on December 29, 2010. Retrieved February 10, 2011.
  12. ^ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xlRfFL8RkSw
  13. ^ "Parros Cuts Hair for a Cause - Anaheim Ducks". Ducks.nhl.com. Retrieved June 1, 2011.

External links[edit]