Wouldn't it be nice if all charitable organizations were honest? If all the money they collected from donors actually went towards the causes they stood for? It would be great if every charity acted like that, but unfortunately, not all of them do. Some charities are founded by people with only their own selfish goals in mind, which only hurts the people they claim that they're helping.
Not only are some charitable organizations terrible, but their fundraising tactics are terrible as well. You may have once received a call from a telemarketer for a charity who tried to get you to donate money to said charity. There are plenty of stories from people who said telemarketers harassed them over the phone into giving money. And it's even worse on TV. They show you pictures of starving children or abused pets, asking you to donate money and you want to help them, but you have to ask yourself, how can I be sure that the money I send would actually help those in need?
If you're in the mood for donating this holiday season, here are some charities and organizations you should steer clear from if you want to make sure your money actually goes towards a good cause.
15 Firefighters Charitable Foundation - IRS Form 990 Not Published On Site And Investigated By Halunen Law Firm
The Firefighters Charitable Foundation (FFCF) offers monetary assistance to people who have had their lives affected by disasters, particularly fires. In addition, they supply aid to other disaster or prevention-related charities and volunteer fire departments and give aid to children in need and grants to other charities with similar missions.
Charity Navigator, the independent charity watchdog organization that grades charitable organizations in the United States, gave the FFCF zero out of four stars as only 7% of the charity's total expenses were spent on the programs and services it delivers. Its audited financial statements for the fiscal year and IRS Form 990 weren't published on the charity's website, and these are supposedly forms that show if they're managing their financial resources properly. Last year, the class action firm of Halunen Law investigated the FFCF for allegedly embezzling donation dollars.
14 Youth Development Fund - Funds Mainly Go To CEO
The Youth Development Fund (YDF) is an assistance fund that helps finance educational programs concerning drug abuse, health, and fitness. They also put on festival events for children and the general public and create Public Service Announcements to educate the general public on child-family relationships. In addition to that, they also help economically-disadvantaged children between the ages of 9 and 24 get an education, find a job, and evade setbacks such as teen parenthood and juvenile delinquency.
Only about 8% of its funds goes towards programs for kids. The rest reportedly goes to the CEO and the professional fundraising company that the Fund works with. Even Bill O'Reilly reported on the charity and their scamming tactics.
13 Police Protective Fund - 80% Goes To Telemarketers
The Police Protective Fund is a public awareness organization that works to educate the general public on public safety. The American Association of Police Officers created the organization to raise the public's awareness of issues law enforcement officers have to face. It also helps families of fallen police officers.
Charity Navigator gave the Fund zero out of four stars. Only 8.1% of the charity's total expenses goes toward the programs and services it provides. 80% goes to the telemarketers who reportedly harass people over the phone for donations. The audited financial statements, IRS Form 990, and the list of board directors and key staff were not available on the Fund's website. And apparently, the founder is a convicted felon and a registered "offender."
12 National Caregiving Foundation - Faced Allegations Of Fraud And More
The National Caregiving Foundation is a health charity that works to alleviate the devastating effects that catastrophic disasters place on our society. They distribute educational information and materials to help lift the burden off the shoulders of those affected by disease, as well as raise public awareness. The foundation focuses its efforts on The Alzheimer's Project, which assists those with Alzheimer's disease.
Charity Navigator gave the Foundation zero out of four stars. Only 10% of the charity's funds go towards programs and services it provides. They have faced allegations of mail fraud, fraud, false advertising, abuse of senior citizens, and extortion. None of the audited financial statements, IRS Form 990, or lists of board of directors and key staff appeared on the charity's website.
11 Committee For Missing Children - Georgia Attorney General Outed The Organization As A Scam
The Committee for Missing Children is a parent advocacy group that assists parents of missing children and helps them locate their missing kids. They produce and distribute photos of missing children all over the world with the help of partners, share information and laws about missing and abducted children, and educate schools and parents on safety and prevention to ensure more kids don't go missing.
Charity Navigator rated the organization zero out of four stars. Only 10.7% of the funds raised go towards programs and services. Their audited financial statements and IRS Form 990, weren't available on their website. The Georgia Attorney General even outed the organization as a scam charity which invested 80% of its donations in garnering more donations.
10 American Association Of State Troopers - 90% Goes Towards Expenses
The American Association of State Troopers is a fraternal organization that is made up of active and retired state troopers, highway patrol officers, and state police officers. It's managed by a Board of Directors who volunteer their time and membership into the association and is completely voluntary. They provide benefits for members in the association along with their families, develop professional law enforcement training programs, and assist in public safety campaigns for the general public.
Only 8.6% of the donations raised actually go towards programs and benefits. The rest goes to "expenses." Since 2004, the organization has raised $45 million, but less than 4 million was spent on members' benefits.
9 United States Deputy Sheriffs’ Association - Used To Be A Legitimate Organization
The United States Deputy Sheriffs' Association (USDSA) is a national organization that provides survival training to men and women in law enforcement. The courses are taught by professional and experienced trainers who have trained law enforcement officers from the county level all the way to the federal level. In addition to that, they hand out equipment (free of charge) to law enforcement agencies who are either in rural areas or are operating on limited budgets. The equipment they hand out are bulletproof vests, camcorders, and general officer safety items.
Charity Navigator gave the association zero out of four stars. Only 2.6% of donations raised went towards the programs and services it provides. Their audited financial statements weren't accessible on their website. Investigators have said that USDSA used to be a legitimate organization but scammers have since taken over the organization's name and website.
8 Breast Cancer Relief Foundation - Only 2% Went To Help Women In Need
The Breast Cancer Relief Foundation assists in education and prevention, cancer research for children, and develops programs for cancer patients. It's a project of the National Cancer Coalition that focuses on fighting breast cancer and reducing its effects on women and their families. They provide mammograms to women who don't have medical insurance or proper medical insurance to meet their health needs and help pay for patients.
CharityWatch.org gave the Foundation an "F." According to IRS records, for the past decade, the organization raised almost $64 million through professional fundraisers and allowed those companies to keep 70% of the donations. Only about 2% went to help women in need.
7 Operation Lookout National Center For Missing Youth
The Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth deals with missing children and helps parents with the help they need with assistance from local law enforcement officials, as well as national and international authorities. They have a 24-hour hotline for ERs and sightings. Their services include investigative case management, custom poster design, victim advocacy, and more.
Only 15% of the donations raised are actually given to charity. In 2011, the charity reported that it had closed its main office in Everett, Washington and that it planned to cease operations at the end of 2014. However, an inspection of the organization's website by Charity Navigator's analyst team revealed that the charity was still soliciting donations, and it provided no indication of the closed office in Everette, Washington nor its plans to end operations in 2014.
6 Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation - 2/3 Donations Go To Telemarketers
The Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation (CCRF) is a charitable organization that assists children with cancer under the age of 18 and their families by doing whatever they can to lessen the worry that cancer can place on children and their families. They deliver gifts to thousands of children every year, such as toys, board games, craft kits, puzzles, coloring books, video games, and more, which are distributed to hospitals all over the country. They also provide treatment medications and other medical supplies to clinics and doctors who treat cancer patients in developing countries.
Charity Navigator gave the charity one out of four stars overall. Two-thirds of donations raised go to the telemarketers and most of the remaining funds goes into the pockets of the founder and his family members.
5 American Breast Cancer Foundation - 1 Out Of 4 Stars
The American Breast Cancer Foundation is a breast cancer prevention charity that provides people with screening and diagnostic tests for breast cancer and gives grants to help with the costs of screening diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds, and more. They also provide wigs for chemotherapy patients, breast prostheses and specialized bras, prescription medication assistance, travel reimbursement, and other services.
In 2012, its rating on Charity Navigator was 28.59% due to telemarketing costs, and business procedures that the company asserts are part of business practices they no longer practice, thanks to new management. In the years since, its score has improved and now stands at 69.94%. However, it still received one out of four stars for its overall rating.
4 National Veterans Service Fund - "F" Rating
The National Veterans Service Fund administers social services and medical assistance to veterans and their families, particularly families with disabled children. They have a national hotline for veterans and their families, a special fund that offers emergency monetary assistance for families in crisis, peer counselors who can help veterans with the social support they need, and more.
Charity Navigator gave the Fund zero out of four stars. The organization failed to post their audited financial statements and their IRS Form 990 on their website. The American Institute of Philanthropy gave the NVSF an "F," reporting that only 2% of the donations it raises goes towards helping veterans and their families.
3 Heart Support Of America
Heart Support of America is an organization that provides financial assistance to those who suffer from cardiac problems. They develop educational programs, distribute aid to heart patients who can't afford the medical services they need, and give out gifts and grants to hospices and other healthcare providers. They also hand out donated items to various organizations who help the needy.
Charity Navigator gave the organization a zero out of four stars. Only 5.2% of the organization's donations are put towards the programs and services it provides. The organization has come under fire for giving small percentages of their proceeds towards the causes they stand for. 60% of funds were spent on a variety of expenses, including administrative expenses.
2 Association For Firefighters And Paramedics - Spending Donation Money On Trips
The Association for Firefighters and Paramedics (AFP) sponsors burn centers and promotes medical education on burn and injury prevention through community-wide burn awareness programs. They also give out grants and gifts to burn victims and burn programs at hospitals all over the nation.
Charity Navigator gave the organization zero out of four stars. Only 5.3% of donations go towards helping victims of catastrophic fires. The association's audited financial statements, IRS Form 990, and the lists of board members and the key staff weren't listed on the organization's website. In 2010, the organization came under fire when news broke that they were spending donation money on out-of-town trips and lavish resorts.
1 Kids Wish Network - $0.01/$1 Goes Where?
The Kids Wish Network grants wishes to children with severe illnesses, more specifically children between the ages of 3 and 18. In 2004, seven years after the foundation's inception, it granted 143 wishes. Nine years later, it granted 800 wishes that year. Some of the wishes have been granted by celebrities such as John Cena and Brad Paisley.
However, it's been the target of negative publicity throughout much of its history, from allegations of tax avoidance to ineffectual fundraising practices. The American Institute of Philanthropy gave the organization an "F." According to one report, only three cents out of every dollar raised actually goes toward wish granting. That same report also stated that the Network was paying several million dollars on services to companies operated by Mark Breiner, the former Executive Director.