No doubt, there’s a special place in Hades for those who bilk the generous goodwill and donations of others in order to line their own pockets.
The Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting have conducted an exhaustive year-long investigation into the worst charities in America, based on how much money they collect versus how much they actually spend on their causes.
These tax-exempt organizations all spend only pennies on the dollar of their fundraising coffers to help the causes they purport to serve, while squandering millions on professional for-profit solicitation companies to raise such donations.
Here’s a look at the top five worst charities in America.
5. Firefighters Charitable Foundation
“Hello there, Miss… So, uh, who doesn’t love firefighters, eh? They risk their lives by running into blazing infernos rescuing folks like you and they’ll even get your cat out of a tree if needs be. So, how ’bout throwing a little scratch toward helping these brothers out? … That is, unless you hate firefighters. You don’t hate firefighters, do you, ma’am?”
Firefighters Charitable Foundation is an organization that uses a broker to farm out its fundraising activities to telemarketers, and spends 90 cents of every dollar it raises toward for-profit solicitors, according to the investigation.
4. American Breast Cancer Foundation
Today the American Breast Cancer Foundation may be the only one on this list trying to actually change its former ways, but for 13 years it was “one of the most wasteful charities in the nation,” according to the investigation.
ABCF started as a charity designed to fund breast cancer screenings for low-income women, but under the governance of founder Phyllis Wolf, it spent 75 cents of every dollar raised on for-profit fundraisers.
Wolf also hired her son Joseph A. Wolf, who, after serving as the charity’s vice president, created a telemarketing company ironically named Non Profit Promotions that did $18 million in order to raise money for ABCF.
Eventually word got out about the Wolfs’ shady dealings and they were forced to resign. The year they left the charity, Wolf received a salary of $126,500 and her son’s company got $134,733, while only $20,000 was spent on mammograms.
3. Children’s Wish Foundation International
Children’s Wish Foundation International presents itself as charity that grants dying children’s last wishes akin to the totally legit Make-A-Wish Foundation. But it seems like the only wishes being granted are of those hoping to make a fast buck.
In 2010, Children’s Wish dished out a staggering $6 million to its for-profit solictors, while it only spent $600,000 granting the wishes of terminally ill children, according to the investigation.
That same year, Linda Dozoretz, the charity’s founder and executive director, pulled in a cool $262,752 salary.
2. Cancer Fund of America
Cancer Fund of America’s website, which looks about as old as the Internet and features never-ending status bars when you click on certain items, makes this curious claim in the organization’s mission statement:
Cancer Fund of America’s mission differs greatly from most because its principle mission is to provide aid to the ill and needy.
How that makes it different from the mission statement of nearly every other charity since the dawn of civilization is a little unclear. But the real way in which CFA differs greatly from most other charities is that it spends 83 cents of every dollar allowing the founder’s family to eat high on the hog, according to the investigation.
While CFA professes to be fighting cancer, the organization mostly just sends gift baskets with shampoo, blankets, teddy bears and — just what every cancer patient needs — iPod Nano covers. However, in the past decade CFA has raised almost $100 million and has spent less than $1 million on its bundles of trinkets.
The rest of the money goes partly to CFA’s founder, James T. Reynolds Sr., and his family, and partly to for-profit solicitors.
1. Kids Wish Network
Kids Wish Network is yet another charity that operates on the premise of granting sick children their dying wishes like the Make-A-Wish Foundation does. Apparently, these scam charities realized long ago that sick dying kids equal cold hard cash.
For the past decade, the charity has funneled $110 million into its fundraising solicitors and spent just $3.2 million in direct cash aid to sick kids, according to the investigation. This means Kids Wish Network spends a measly under 2.5 cents for every dollar is raises on direct aid to children, making it take home the dubious honors of Worst Charity in America.