Meet America's 'Worst Charities'

And here's what they have in common

By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff

Posted Jun 14, 2013 12:19 PM CDT

(Newser) – Charity or scam? The 50 worst charities identified in a joint investigation between the Center for Investigative Reporting, the Tampa Bay Times, and CNN, look an awfully lot like the latter. Take their grand prize winner for worst charity, Kids Wish Network. Less than 3% of the millions it raises annually actually goes to help dying children; in the last decade, it gave nearly $110 million to corporate solicitors. Almost all of the worst charities have that in common; in fact, many are funded by the solicitors themselves, acting essentially as front companies.

Six of the charities spent no money at all on their purported cause. Others used accounting tricks to inflate the value of donated goods. One family "helped" by the second-worst charity, Cancer Fund of America, says that the group sent a box filled with paper plates, cups, napkins, and toys (the patient was a grown man). The founders of these charities also tend to draw lavish paychecks, and a third of them have put relatives on the payroll. You can see the full list of the worst offenders here, but here are the top 10. After each is the percentage of donations spent on direct cash aid.

  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 — 8.1%
  6. Breast Cancer Relief Foundation — 2.2%
  7. International Union of Police Associations, AFL-CIO — 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%

A screenshot from a promotional video for the Kids Wish Network.
A screenshot from a promotional video for the Kids Wish Network.   (YouTube)
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Anderson Cooper 360's report on some of the ne'er do wells.   (CNN)
The Tampa Bay Times' video explaining the investigation.   (Tampa Bay Times)

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