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The 50 Rip-Off Charities: Give at Your Own Risk

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

I always believed that giving to a good cause or helping victims of a disaster was a noble thing to do.  I mean, “There but for the grace of God go I”, right? With the recent uncovering of scandals within the government, more and more investigators are digging to uncover other cases of fraud and mismanagement. Is nothing sacred anymore? 


A recent investigation exposed by CNN, The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Tampa Bay Times have found that there are dozens and dozens of charities that basically do next to nothing for the causes they raise money for.

50 of the worst charities were looked at and it was concluded that they received 1 billion dollars over the last ten years, but the charities received only 50 million.  Where did the money go?  Well, the majority of the funds collected went to solicitors.  These are the people who go out and raise the funds and collect the donations.  This basically amounts to them raising money to pay themselves.

There are still many, many charities that actually distribute the majority of the monies collected to the intended recipients but these days it is wise to look before you open your wallet.  For instance, one of the worst charities listed is an organization called “Kids Wish Network” that is supposed to collect money for terminally ill children and grant their wishes.  Sound suspiciously familiar?  The name is awfully close to the very legitimate “Make A Wish Foundation” which promises the same thing.

This is where the donor can be conned.  Many people are told the names of these organizations and they feel that they have heard of them and what they do, so out comes the checkbook.  Unfortunately they don’t realize that the “Kids Wish Network” raised $127 million dollars, paid their solicitors $109 million, paid their employees most of the remaining funds leaving less than 3% for granting wishes!


The 50 worst charities give less than 4% of donations raised to direct cash aid.  One diabetes charity raised almost $14 million dollars over a ten year period and gave about $10,000 to patients.  Another cancer charity paid a company owned by the president’s son almost $18 million dollars over eight years to solicit funds.

The specific kinds of charities that pay for-profit corporations to raise the majority of their donations regularly give their solicitors over two-thirds of the take.  Good charities should spend no more than 35 cents to raise a dollar.

So the reality is that the “50 worst charities raised more than $1.3 billion over the past decade and paid nearly $1 billion of that to the companies that raise their donations”. Out of $1.3 billion dollars the charities received less than 4%.  Had that money gone to the charities in the correct way it would have been able to build 20,000 Habitat For Humanity Homes, 7 million wheelchairs or provide nearly 10 million uninsured women, mammograms.

There are hundreds if not thousands of these “bad” charities that are taking money from sincere donors who faithfully believe that their hard earned money is going to the people it was intended for. Particularly disheartening are the Veterans organizations that “pretend” to send aid to disabled vets.  The sad part is that many Veterans organizations ARE legitimate and they have to defend themselves because some other dishonest charity has poisoned the well. 


In the wake of the IRS scandals, one would think that the “red flags” would have been raised on these organizations when their papers were filed every year.  That however was not the case.  The IRS was too busy targeting “Tea Party” and conservative groups to check on the American people being ripped off by the hundreds of millions of dollars.

The bottom line is we live in a world where fraud and deceit are running rampant.  These “rip-off” charities have no qualms about taking our money and keeping it for themselves.  Before donating, do your due diligence and check out the list of the 50 worst charities.  Our money should go where we intend it to and if the government won’t help monitor this situation then like everything else, we have to do it ourselves.

Morgan Brittany



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