In general, us humans are a little bit tight. We see the news and we think “shit, dude, that is rough.” Then we go and buy some new shoes or spend £50 on a Sky TV subscription or £5 on a pint and exactly £0 goes on those who are suffering.
But, every so often, we might be sufficiently moved (drunk) to actually dip into our moth infested pockets and pay some cash out. It will probably only be a fiver, or whatever (every little helps), but we assume that the majority of those five gold nuggets will go to the people we intend it to. Sure, charities have overheads etc, but most of it should get to the needy, you’d think.
Unfortunately, new research into some of the biggest charities on earth has shown that to be incorrect. In reality, the lion’s share of your grubby five-pound note will go into the even grubbier pockets of the rich fat cats that run these charities.
Of course, this does not go for all charities, and the ones outlined below are all American. But, if someone is rinsing cash out of charities in America, you can guarantee they’re doing it elsewhere too.
In some cases only 1c in every 1$ found its way from the charity to the charitable cause. In many cases, not-for-profit companies employ for-profit companies to call people to rustle up donations. Oftentimes, these guys will receive 50% of the total money that comes in.
The Tampa Bay Times, CNN and the Center for Investigative Reporting recently teamed up to conduct an investigation into major charities, and they came up with a list of the 50 worst charities in America. Their sleuthing skills found that between the 50 companies they had raised more than $1.3 billion over the last ten years, but almost $1 billion of that total went to the for-profit companies that raised their donations for them.
That, ladies and gentlemen, sounds like a bit of scam. Right?
So, who was worst? It was the warm and cuddly sounding Kids Wish Network. Here’s what the Tampa Bay Time had to say about them:
The worst charity in America operates from a metal warehouse behind a gas station in Holiday. 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.
Woah. What a shower of feckers.
That’s not an insignificant amount of money. Imagine if all of that cash had gone somewhere useful. But no, it’s now lining some champagne-guzzling, pinstripe suit-wearing business dick’s pockets.
CNN summarised the investigation:
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.
How can they get away with spending $0 on their cause? They go on:
Even as they plead for financial support, operators at many of the 50 worst charities have lied to donors about where their money goes, taken multiple salaries, secretly paid themselves consulting fees or arranged fund-raising contracts with friends. One cancer charity paid a company owned by the president’s son nearly $18 million over eight years to solicit funds. A medical charity paid its biggest research grant to its president’s own for-profit company.
Shiiiiiiiit. WTF is wrong with these people?
It only gets more sour as the report goes on:
Some nonprofits are little more than fronts for fund-raising companies, which bankroll their startup costs, lock them into exclusive contracts at exorbitant rates and even drive the charities into debt. Florida-based Project Cure has raised more than $65 million since 1998, but every year has wound up owing its fundraiser more than what was raised. According to its latest financial filing, the nonprofit is $3 million in debt.
Do these people have no soul? Nope:
To disguise the meager amount of money that reaches those in need, charities use accounting tricks and inflate the value of donated dollar-store cast-offs — snack cakes and air fresheners — that they give to dying cancer patients and homeless veterans.
A lot of charities use so-called boiler rooms to call people at home to rinse cash out of them for the charities. I’m sure you’ve received those types of calls yourself. According to the Center for Investigative Reporting:
These charity-run boiler rooms are tucked behind unmarked doors in low-rent, mostly vacant strip centers. During a visit to one earlier this year, reporters saw about 20 men sitting at long tables, hunched over computers and wearing headsets. Working to raise enough money to hit bonus levels scrawled out on a whiteboard, they asked donors to give to help the families of officers killed in the line of duty.
Police Protective Fund’s Florida operations were ignored by state regulators until 2010. That year, a local sheriff’s office fielded a complaint and raided one of the charity’s phone rooms in Port Richey.
According to the Pasco County Sheriff’s Office report, deputies found that 11 of the 27 employees who were calling for donations and taking down credit card numbers were convicted felons.
Brilliant. It just gets shitter and shitter, doesn’t it? So, who are the worst charities in America? Here are the names of the worst 10 charities and alongside the names is the percentage of money that actually went to the causes it was supposed to:
1. Kids Wish Network (2.5%)
2. Cancer Fund of America (0.9%)
3. Children’s Wish Foundation International (10.8%)
4. American Breast Cancer Foundation (5.3%)
5. Firefighters Charitable Foundation (8.4%)
6. Breast Cancer Relief Foundation (2.2%)
7. International Union of Police Associations (0.5%)
8. National Veterans Service Fund (7.8%)
9. American Association of State Troopers (8.6%)
10. Children’s Cancer Fund of America (5.3%)
So don’t give any money to any of those dicks, whatever you do. The creators of the report want to make it clear that not all charities are like this. The majority of them (especially smaller charities) are the complete opposite of this. They work and work to change people’s lives and help those in need. But, people should know this shit goes on, so they can investigate the charities for themselves and make an informed decision. Otherwise, you’re funding con artists.
Before I wrap this up, it’s worth giving the number two on the list – Cancer Fund of America – a bit more attention. Those guys really are snakes.
In the past three years alone, Cancer Fund and its associated charities raised $110 million. The charities paid more than $75 million of that to solicitors. Cancer Fund ranks second on the Times/CIR list of America’s worst charities. (Florida’s Kids Wish Network placed first.)
Salaries in 2011 topped $8 million – 13 times more than patients received in cash. Nearly $1 million went to Reynolds family members.
The network’s programs are overstated at best. Some have been fabricated.
Urgent pain medication’ supposedly provided to critically ill cancer patients amounted to nothing more than over-the-counter ibuprofen, regulators determined. A program to drive patients to chemotherapy, touted by the charity in mailings, didn’t even exist.
One Reynolds family charity, Breast Cancer Society, told the IRS it shipped $36 million worth of medical supplies overseas in 2011. But the two companies named as suppliers of the donated goods said they have no record of dealing with the group.
Over the past 20 years, Cancer Fund has run afoul of regulators in at least six states, paying more than $525,000 to settle charges that include lying to donors. It hasn’t slowed the network.
The fines amount to about one-third of one percent of the $177 million raised by Cancer Fund of America over the same period.
To summarise: don’t trust anyone. Do your due diligence. Don’t fund pirates and liars.