Monday, May 6, 2013

One Less Breast Cancer Charity Operation To Steal

by Gary Snyder

For years, Nonprofit Imperative has warned its readers about Breast Cancer charities. 
Now there is further evidence about their reckless fundraising and operations management. 

The latest:  

A judge has shut down a fundraising firm that heartlessly duped donors into giving $10 million to a sham Long Island breast cancer charity. Campaign Center Inc. told donors contributions to the Coalition Against Breast Cancer would help eradicate breast cancer through research, mammogram screening and other programs.

The firm, which made 6,000 calls per day on behalf of the bogus charity, kept 85 cents of every dollar it raised. Of the $10 million raised between 2005 and 2011, only $48,000 went toward the cause, paying for 40 women to get mammograms.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who brought suit against the two entities in 2011, said the Coalition Against Breast Cancer officers Debra Koppelman, her boyfriend Andrew Smith and others used most of the money as a “personal cash machine.” Schneiderman said the charity’s business model was simple: pick a sympathetic issue and lie and mislead donors about how donations will be used.

On its website, the nonprofit claimed an affiliation with the prestigious Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center that didn’t exist. The AG said Koppelman and Smith paid themselves more than $550,000 in combined salaries for 2005 through 2009, another $150,000 in retirement accounts, and dental and medical benefits that totaled at least $9,000 per year.

He said charity funds were also used to pay for personal cell phones and home telephones, TV and Internet services. The couple also took out loans totaling $155,000 using donated funds.
In total, only 4% of the charitable funds went for program services.

Suffolk County Judge Emily Pines ordered the Lindenhurst, L.I., fundraising firm to cease operations in New York in decision released

A restitution amount will be determined May 20.

In March, Schneiderman reached a deal with the principals of the bogus charity in which they agreed to pay $1.55 million in restitution and never again run a New York charity.

“Sham charities and professional fundraisers who line their pockets by tricking New Yorkers into thinking they are donating their hard earned money to fund breast cancer research and other charitable causes have no business operating in our state,” said Schneiderman.

Although no criminal charges were filed, the investigation is still ongoing. (daily news)

Nonprofit Imperative gathers its information principally from public documents...some of which are directly quoted. Virtually all cited are in some phase of criminal proceedings; some have not been charged, however. Cites in various media: Featured in print, broadcast, and online media outlets, including: Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio, Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, B, USA Today Topics,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times...and many more Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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