Monday, October 5, 2015

It Is Breast Cancer Month: Be Warned!

by Gary Snyder

Nonprofit Imperative has warned its readers about the problems associated with cancer charities, particularly breast cancer. Now we see a number of them coming clean. There will be more stepping forward!

This is an previously posted reminder (updated) that Breast Cancer month is fraught with crime.

Less than two weeks after the Christian relief charity World Help reported that it had overstated its 2011 revenues by 1,400 percent, in large part because it said it had overvalued medicine it provided to other charities, one of its beneficiaries is taking similar, though smaller, action.

The Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, in Harrisburg, Pa., said it would lower its 2011 revenues by removing the value associated with the Gardasil HPV vaccine it received from World Help and then donated to a charity in Ghana.
Greg Anderson, the group’s founder, did not specify exactly how much the revenue would change, but the vaccine was valued at $4.1-million, which accounted for 34 percent of the group’s revenue.

World Help, which was ranked No. 77 on The Chronicle’s list of 400 charities that raise the most from private sources, lowered its 2011 revenue last month from the $239-million it reported to the Internal Revenue Service to just $17-million. Nearly all of its revenue came from the value it estimated for the medications, food, and other supplies that it received from other charities to deliver overseas.

But an examination by The Chronicle last year revealed that those other charities—Catholic Medical Mission Board, Cross International, and Direct Relief International—said they had not provided the roughly $350-million worth of medicines over three years to World Help, as listed in the Forest, Va., charity’s tax filings.

World Help’s 940-percent revenue growth since 2007 had been driven almost entirely by the value of those donated goods.

Cancer Fund of America is a controversial group. Both the Better Business Bureau and the nonprofit rating agency Charity Navigator have vilified it for giving less than a penny of every dollar raised to cancer patients. Charity Navigator once listed the Cancer Fund of America Support Services, as one of "10 Non-Profits That Make Ebenezer Proud." In a Georgia Governor's Office of Consumer Affairs document Cancer Fund was accused of making false and misleading claims in its mail solicitations, allegations that the Cancer Fund of America ultimately settled for $50,000

Breast Cancer Society (BCS) claims it raised $50 million in contributions in tax filings but when pressed by Marie Claire magazine the founder said that it raised just $15 million in cash donations in 2009. The other $35 million represented his estimate of medications that the BCS accepted as gifts or bought at a major discount but then listed on its books as having much higher values. He says he gets the meds from other organizations, including the Ontario-based Universal Aide Society, which saw its Canadian charitable status revoked two years ago for malfeasance. In 2009, the leader collected a $223,276 salary.

The United Cancer Council hired a fundraiser netting only $2 million out of the $28 million collected. 

The Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation raised $1,159,654. Just under 12 percent, less than $137,000, went toward granting wishes for terminally ill breast cancer patients.

The American Cancer Society actually lost money on a program (in 2010), because the telemarketing firm got to keep 100 percent of the $5.3 million in funds it raised, plus $113,006 in fees from the society, government filings showed. No apologies from the agency.

They had more than 20,000 people who helped raise more than $2 million by participating in the national breast cancer organization’s, Y-Me, race and walk. Weeks later the Chicago-based nonprofit, which operated a nationwide hot line offering counseling to breast cancer patients, fired its staff, shut down its website address and closed its doors. A Y-Me volunteer and founder of the group’s signature fund-raising race, said “incompetence and mismanagement,” especially under previous leadership, led to Y-Me’s downfall. The attorney general is investigating.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation was a family affair. With collections of about $10 million, the founder takes home $200,000, her son $180,000, her husband and another son all share in the largess at the expense of those in need. It even endorses misleading jewelry. About 40% of its revenues were not spent toward its mission.

The Coalition Against Breast Cancer offers virtually nothing to patients after taking in millions. The Coalition is under investigation by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman. He called the charity a sham.

  Charity Navigator ranks  American Breast Cancer Relief Foundation Men's Health      Network and the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute with just one star, poorly  performing organizations, and United Breast Cancer Foundation, Walker Cancer  Research Institute and the National Cancer Center with zero (0) stars.

This still does not include some of the questionable practices at the venerable breast cancer charity, Susan G. Komen and the John Wayne Cancer Institute, Breast Cancer Fund and Share, United Breast Cancer Foundation and  Samuel Waxman Cancer Research Foundation.

It has been estimated that tens of millions of dollars are taken from those to which it was intended. Just a few years ago, fewer than 50% of the Charity Navigator breast cancer charities have rated high for their commitment to Accountability and Transparency.

This chart from Michigan attorney general's data is worth noting:

Gross Receipts
% to Charity

The Breast Cancer Charities of America, Inc.
The Breast Cancer Relief Foundation
The Breast Cancer Society, Inc.
Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation, Inc.
Cancer Fund of America, Inc.
Cancer Survivors' Fund
National Children Leukemia Foundation Inc
The National Children's Cancer Society, Inc.

National Foundation for Cancer Research
United Breast Cancer Foundation
United Breast Cancer Research Society, Inc.
Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation, Inc.

Breast Cancer Charities of America
Breast Cancer Society
Cancer Fund of America
Cancer Recovery Foundation of America
Children with Hair Loss
Children's Cancer Fund of America
Prevent Cancer Foundation
$0 0.0%
Mission of Hope Cancer Fund
Memorial Sloan - Kettering Cancer Center
Children's Leukemia Research Association, Inc.
Childhood Leukemia Foundation, Inc.
American Institute for Cancer Research

Watch out before donating. Make sure that you are confident that the charity that you donate to is honest. Exercise due diligence:

·      ensure the charity is effectively governed; is it transparent, accountable and fiscally responsible?
·      go to GuideStar, if available; and review the charity’s IRS 990 form; look at other watchdog websites such as Charity Navigator.
·      go to the charity’s website and scrutinize the annual report and try to see if there are conflicts of interest (such as family members on the board);
·      check the financial statements both at GuideStar and at website;
·      examine to see if programs are in sync with organization’s mission;
·      ask if the agency has internal financial controls in place to avoid fraud and misapplication of funds.

This expose was uncovered, in part, by the Chronicle of Philanthropy. (We should support our media or the risks associated with charity malfeasance or it will explode faster than it already has)

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: Charity Navigator, Vermont Public Radio, Miami Herald, National Public Radio (NPR), Huffington Post, The Sun News, Atlanta Journal Constitution, Wall Street Journal (Profile, News and Photos), “Betrayal”, (a movie), NBC (on Charity Fraud…TBD), FOX2, ABC Spotlight on the News, WWJ Radio, Marie Claire, Ethics World, Aspen Philanthropy Newsletter, Harvard Business Review, Current Affairs, Charity Navigator, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, St. Petersburg Times, Board Room Insider, USA Today Topics, Accountants News,, Responsive Philanthropy Magazine, New York Times, Portfolio Magazine, The Virgin Islands Daily News, NANKAI (China) BUSINESS REVIEW, National Religious Broadcasters newsletter, The Charity Governance Blog, American Chronicle, Palm Beach Post, Detroit Free Press, Oakland Press, Nonprofit World, Socially Responsible Business Forum, PNNOnline, Ohio Nonprofit Resources, Nonprofit Good Practice Guide, Nonprofit Startup Guide, Nonprofit Blog, National Coalition of Homeless Newsletter, Finance and Administration Roundtable Newsletter,, CORP! Magazine, Crain’s Michigan Nonprofit,, PhilanTopic, Nashville Free Press, Nonprofit Law Blog, Seniors World Chronicle, Carnegie Reporter, Assoc. of Certified Fraud Examiners Examiner,, Worchester (MA) Telegram and Gazette, Carnegie Corporation of America, EO Tax Journal, Wikipedia: Non-profit Organizations; Parent: Wise Austin, Accountants News, Veterans Today,, Far-roundtable, #Nonprofit Report, nonprofithelpnews, nonprofit news; National Enquirer, Northwest Herald, The HelpWise Daily, The #Nonprofit Report, Wikipedia (Nonprofit Organization),, Nonprofits: On the Brink (2006) Silence: The Impending Threat to the Charitable Sector (2011)
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