By Maggie Freleng
When it comes to women’s causes, breast cancer is the best-seller. The no-brainer. Companies and individuals throw their support behind this issue—ignoring many others. Sadly, many organizations have preyed on that knee jerk reaction to raise lots of money, most of which goes to for-profit fundraising companies or the overhead of the group itself, with precious little going to actual good deeds.
The Tampa Bay Times, CIR, and CNN recently released a list of America’s 50 worst charities, which evaluated organizations on the money spent raising funds and on overhead versus actual good works. Of those 50, five breast cancer charities make the list. Three were among the top ten offenders of those sponging people for profit.
Cancer Fund of America/Breast Cancer Financial Assistance Fund #2
The Cancer Fund of America was started in 1984 to raise funds for research and cancer treatment. However, instead actually paying for cancer patients expenses, the charity collects donated goods and ships them across the country to dying patients and their families who have gone broke due to the massive expense they have burdened trying to battle cancer.
The Cancer Fund of America has paid: $80.4 million to solicitors, $17.6 million for overhead, $891,812 to direct cash aid.
American Breast Cancer Foundation #4
The American Breast Cancer Foundation was founded in 1997 by Phyllis Wolf, and promised to pay for breast cancer screenings with the money it raised. Instead, Wolf signed contracts with more than a half dozen professional fundraisers and paid them nearly 75 cents of every dollar raised. Almost none of the money raised made it to cancer patients, and the American Breast Cancer Foundation was recognized as one of the most wasteful charities in the nation for 13 years.
The American Breast Cancer Foundation has paid: $59.8 million to solicitors, $21 million cash to the charity, $4.2 million to direct cash aid.
Breast Cancer Relief Foundation #6
Breast Cancer Relief Foundation was founded by Donald G. Tarver in 1987 when he started over after his other charity was accused by the IRS of paying too much money to its for-profit fundraiser. IRS records show that for the past decade, the Breast Cancer Relief Foundation has raised nearly $64 million through professional fundraisers, and allowed those companies to keep 70 percent of donations. Just more than 2 percent of donations raised actually went to women in need.
Breast Cancer Relief Foundation has paid: $44.8 million cash paid to solicitors, $19.1 million cash to the charity, $1.4 million to direct cash aid.
Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation #22
Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation was started by Jacqueline Gray, a breast cancer survivor, and her husband Kevin Gray in 2007. The company initially struggled to raise money for mammogram screenings and diagnostic services for women with breast cancer. However that all changed when they hired Mark Gelvan, as their consultant. Gelvan had spent two decades transforming floundering charities into money-making machines. He said he would help the charity expand if it signed a contract with telemarketer Community Support Inc, who would loan them startup money and help with marketing. All the Grays had to do was agree to pay Community Support 90 cents of every dollar raised. They agreed and Woman to Woman raised $14.5 million in donations from 2009 to 2011, tax filings show. It paid nearly 95 percent of that to its for-profit fundraiser, and spent about $700,000 on overhead and salaries. That left an average of less than $20,000 a year to provide mammograms and other diagnostic services for women with breast cancer. Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation has paid: $13.7 million to solicitors, $763,278 cash to the charity, $58,708 to direct cash aid.
United Breast Cancer Foundation #38
United Breast Cancer Foundation was founded in 2000 to provide grants and assistance to patients and families coping with breast cancer. The foundation is run by the Mastroianni family. Audrey S. Mastroianni serves as executive director. Her father and brother serve on the board. The charity has raised about $11.5 million over the past 10 years and spent more than half of that on professional fundraisers. About 6 percent of the money raised has been spent on direct financial assistance to those in need.
United Breast Cancer Foundation has paid: $6.6 million to solicitors, $5.0 million cash to the charity, $736,827 to direct cash aid.