America’s worst charities sound similar to America’s best charities and that is how America’s worst charities get money. If you donate to Kids Wish Network, Children’s Wish Foundation International, or Wishing Well Foundation, you might be thinking of the Make-A-Wish foundation. But which one of these charities will actually direct the money to where it is supposed to go? America’s worst charities “play off the names of well-known organizations, confusing donors,” reported CNN on June 13, 2013.
In fact, Kids Wish Network, Children’s Wish Foundation International, and Wishing Well Foundation are on the list of America’s worst charities. All of them are playing on the name of one of America’s best charities; the Make-A-Wish foundation.
“These nonprofits adopt popular causes or mimic well-known charity names that fool donors. Then they rake in cash, year after year.”
When someone calls on the phone asking for a donation, the main word that people hear is “Wish,” “Foundation,” and “Kids,” or “Children.” Any of those words are sufficient to confuse a listener into believing that a donation will go to where it is needed, to children.
But not so.
According to the CNN report which was based on cooperative efforts between the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting, a year-long investigation to identify America’s worst charities showed how America’s worst charities operate and where the donated money truly goes.
“The 50 worst charities in America devote less than 4% of donations raised to direct cash aid. Some charities gave even less. Over a decade, one diabetes charity raised nearly $14 million and gave about $10,000 to patients. Six spent no cash at all on their cause.”
America’s worst charities use donated money to pay their own high salaries, share it with friends under so-called consulting fees, redirect the money to for-profit companies, or pay telemarketers.
“For the worst charities, writing big checks to telemarketers isn’t an anomaly. It’s a way of life.”
For example, number 12 on the list of America’s worst charities is Youth Development Fund which has existed for 30 years. “Over the past decade it has raised nearly $30 million from donors by promising to educate children about drug abuse, health and fitness. About 80% of what’s donated each year goes directly to solicitation companies. Most of what’s left pays for one thing: scuba-diving videos starring the charity’s founder and president, Rick Bowen. Bowen’s charity pays his own for-profit production company about $200,000 a year to make the videos. Then the charity pays to air Rick Bowen Deep-Sea Diving on a local Knoxville station. The program makes no mention of Youth Development Fund.”
As another example, number four on the list of America’s worst charities is American Breast Cancer Foundation which paid Joseph Wolf’s telemarketing company to generate donations. ”His mother, Phyllis Wolf, had founded the Baltimore-based charity and was its president until she was forced to resign in 2010. While she ran the charity, her son’s company, Non Profit Promotions, collected $18 million in telemarketing fees.”
Number one on the list of America’s worst charities is Kids Wish Network. “Every year, Kids Wish Network raises millions of dollars in donations in the name of dying children and their families. Every year, it spends less than 3 cents on the dollar helping kids. Most of the rest gets diverted to enrich the charity’s operators and the for-profit companies Kids Wish hires to drum up donations. In the past decade alone, Kids Wish has channeled nearly $110 million donated for sick children to its corporate solicitors. An additional $4.8 million has gone to pay the charity’s founder and his own consulting firms.”
“No charity in the nation has siphoned more money away from the needy over a longer period of time.”
Taking away money from those who need it most is a crime that goes beyond finances. Every dollar that a donor intended to go to Make-A-Wish Foundation in order to help fulfill a dying child’s last wish instead went towards financing a Kids Wish Network associate’s luxury vacation.
But aren’t foundations supposed to be regulated?
Thirty-nine of America’s worst charities have been disciplined by state regulators, some as many as seven times. Eight of America’s worst charities have been banned in at least one state. One of America’s worst charities was once shut down by regulators but reopened under a new name. “A third of the charities’ founders and executives have put relatives on the payroll or the board of directors.”
The only way to ensure that one’s donation is not going to one of America’s 50 worst charities is awareness and a precise knowledge of the true name of the charity.
Below is the list of America’s 50 worst charities “RANKED BY MONEY BLOWN ON SOLICITING COSTS” as reported by the Tampa Bay Times. The Tampa Bay Times provides links to America’s worst charities, precise information about how much money was raised, and how much money went to those in need. Needless to say — not a lot.
List of America’s 50 worst charities:
- Kids Wish Network
- Cancer Fund of America
- Children’s Wish Foundation International
- American Breast Cancer Foundation
- Firefighters Charitable Foundation
- Breast Cancer Relief Foundation $63.9 million
- International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO
- National Veterans Service Fund
- American Association of State Troopers
- Children’s Cancer Fund of America
- Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation
- Youth Development Fund
- Committee For Missing Children
- Association for Firefighters and Paramedics
- Project Cure (Bradenton, FL)
- National Caregiving Foundation
- Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth
- United States Deputy Sheriffs’ Association
- Vietnow National Headquarters
- Police Protective Fund
- National Cancer Coalition
- Woman To Woman Breast Cancer Foundation
- American Foundation For Disabled Children
- The Veterans Fund
- Heart Support of America
- Veterans Assistance Foundation
- Children’s Charity Fund
- Wishing Well Foundation USA
- Defeat Diabetes Foundation
- Disabled Police Officers of America Inc.
- National Police Defense Foundation
- American Association of the Deaf & Blind
- Reserve Police Officers Association
- Optimal Medical Foundation
- Disabled Police and Sheriffs Foundation
- Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center
- Children’s Leukemia Research Association
- United Breast Cancer Foundation
- Shiloh International Ministries
- Circle of Friends For American Veterans
- Find the Children
- Survivors and Victims Empowered
- Firefighters Assistance Fund
- Caring for Our Children Foundation
- National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition
- American Foundation for Children With AIDS
- Our American Veterans
- Roger Wyburn-Mason & Jack M Blount Foundation For Eradication of Rheumatoid Disease
- Firefighters Burn Fund
- Hope Cancer Fund