America’s Worst Charities Rip Off Rather Than Do Good

By  //  June 11, 2013


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96% OF DONATIONS DIVERTED FROM BENEFICENT CAUSES

A blockbuster special report identifying the nation’s 50 worst charities was compiled through a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR). The Tampa Bay Times‘ Kris Hundley and the CIR’s investigative reporter Kendal Taggart collaborated on the story published in last Thursday’s Times.

Hundley and Taggart uncover the appalling tactics used by this parasitic segment of the nonprofit industry to divert good faith contributions to “boiler room operators and other solicitors,” and trace in some detail the long history of the most contemptible offenders.

HALF OF THE ’50 WORST’ ARE HEALTH RELATED CAUSES

More than two dozen charities dedicated to health-related causes made the list of poor-performers, which was based on:

  • The review of tens of thousands of pages of federal and state records compiled by the not-for-profit charity tracker Guidestar USA;
  • Identification of the charities that relied on for-profit fundraisers (solicitors) to raise the majority of their donations, with a focus on groups that consistently kept less than 33 cents of every dollar donated for charitable causes;
  • The determination of which of those charities paid the most to their solicitors over the last decade.

 96 CENTS OF EVERY CHARITABLE DOLLAR DIVERTED TO SOLICITORS 

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(CIR Image)

In total, charities named to the list raised approximately $1.3 billion over the past 10 years with about $1 billion of those funds ultimately diverted to enrich the charity’s operators and the for-profit solicitors, and only 4 percent of direct cash aid to the touted beneficent cause.

Some exposed nonprofits, like Project Cure in Bradenton, Florida, returned no cash aid to support their purported altruistic goals despite charitable contributions of over $50 million.

CANCER AND CHILDREN’S HEALTH CHARITIES = HALF OF THE 10 ‘WORST’

Half of the top 10 “worst” charities included two children’s health foundations and three cancer funds:

new-cfa-awning

Cancer Fund of America is a non-profit organization purportedly set up to help cancer patients, hospices, and other non-profit healthcare providers by way of sending products free of charge directly to them. The Times/CIR investigation revealed that less than 1 percent of over $98 million dollars donated actually went to patients or healthcare providers.

1. Kids Wish Network (which paid $109.8 million to solicitors who raised $127.8 million, and spent 2.5% of funds raised on direct cash aid);
2. Cancer Fund of America (which paid $80.4 million to solicitors who raised 98 million, and spent 0.9% of funds raised on direct cash aid);
4. American Breast Cancer Foundation (which paid $59.8 million to solicitors who raised $80.8 million, and spent 5.3% of funds raised on direct cash aid);
6. Breast Cancer Relief Foundation (which paid $44.8 million to solicitors who raised $63.9 million, and spent 2.2% of funds raised on direct cash aid); and
10. Children’s Cancer Fund of America (which paid $29.2 million to solicitors who raised $37.5 million, and spent 5.3% of funds raised on direct cash aid).

COPY-CAT NAMES AND CAUSES DUPE CONTRIBUTORS

The investigation also revealed that one of the frequent, and most despicable behaviors of the “worst 50″ was to adopt popular causes or mimic well-known charity names to fool donors, taking in cash under false pretenses and at the expense of duped contributors.

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Kids’ Wish Network, a knock-off of the legitimate and highly respected Make-A-Wish Foundation, applies less than 3 cents on every dollar donated to actually making the kids’ dreams come true.

Case in point is, Kids Wish Network, the number one worst charity in the nation according to the Times/CIR review. For the past 16 years the unscrupulous administrators and operatives of Kids Wish have played on the name and mission of the respected Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and North Florida, which spends over 60 percent of their charitable collections on fulfilling the wishes of hundreds of children diagnosed with a life-threatening medical condition. In contrast, Kids Wish has channeled nearly $110 million donated for sick children over the past decade to its corporate fundraisers, with less than 3 cents of every dollar of the $127.8 million dollars raised for the kids actually spent on them.

RIPOFF RATHER THAN SACRED COMPACT TO DO GOOD

Doug White

Doug White, long-time leader in the nation’s philanthropic community.

Doug White, who teaches fundraising management at Columbia University, told the Times, “When you start a charity, you have a sacred compact with society,” adding, “They are ripping off the public under the guise of an organization that’s supposed to do good for society”

CLICK HERE for the full list of America’s 50 “worst” charities, and HERE to read the complete two-part story on TampaBay.com (Part 3 due for release on June 13).


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