Five California Charities Make Worst Top 50 List

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

What makes a charity terrible? Spending almost all of the money it raises on staff salaries and the companies it hires to do solicitations.

The Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting say no one is worse at that than Kids Wish Network, located in Holiday, Florida, which spent less than 3% of the millions of dollars it received in donations actually helping dying children.

The media investigation found Kids Wish had channeled nearly $110 million over a 10-year period to its corporate solicitors, in particular Brickmill Marketing Services, while almost $4.8 million went to its founders, Mark and Shelley Breiner, and Mark’s own consulting firms.

In compiling the data, the journalists found nearly 6,000 charities that use for-profit companies to solicit donations. 

Five California charities made the Top 50 list, based on the money paid to fundraisers. Their average rank is 37.8. Not the worst of the worst. However, the five charities are more prominent in the %-Direct-to-Cause category.  Their average rank is 22.2, based on the percentage of funds going directly to the cause.

They are led by the relatively small National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition which, according to the center, had nothing left over for the cause after raising $4.8 million. It spent $4 million on fundraising and $774,497 for the charity’s operators. Six charities on the list had nothing left for the cause.

The 50 worst charities identified by the investigation raised about $1.4 billion in donations over the past 10 years, but paid $970 million of the total to for-profit companies that encouraged Americans to make donations. These 50 charities devoted less than 4% of donations to direct cash aid.

The five California charities on the Top 50 list are:

Rank  Charity Location to Cause
14  Association for Firefighters and Paramedics Santa Ana 3.1%
39  Shiloh International Ministries LaVerne 1.3%
41  Find the Children Santa Monica 5.4%
45  National Narcotic Officers Associations Coalition West Covina 0.0%
50  Hope Cancer Fund Los Angeles 0.5%

–Noel Brinkerhoff and Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Dirty Secrets of the Worst Charities (by Kris Hundley, Tampa Bay Times and Kendall Taggart, Center for Investigative Reporting)

America’s Worst Charities (Tampa Bay Times and Center for Investigative Reporting)

Kids Charity Worker Turns Whistleblower (by Mark Douglas, (WFLA-Tampa Bay)

Half of Charitable Donations Solicited by Commercial Fundraisers Goes to Overhead (by Ken Broder, AllGov)

State Sues Major Charity to Protect Hospitalized Veterans from “Scam Artists” (by Ken Broder, AllGov California)

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