Florida may be one of the most generous states when it comes to giving, but the Sunshine State also happens to have the worst charities in the nation.
According to a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting, Florida has 11 of the 50 worst charities in the United States based on money blown for soliciting costs -- more than any other state. It also has the worst charity in the nation, Kids Wish Network in Holiday, with only 2.5 percent of its $127.8 million in solicitations actually going to kids with life-threatening conditions and the majority going to line the filthy pockets of the solicitors charities hire to collect donations. Florida, you make us so proud.
Broward County wasn't spared either. The Woman to Woman Breast Cancer Foundation in Lauderdale Lakes ranks number 22 on the list, with 0.4 percent its $14.5 million in total solicitations going to help women (and men) with breast cancer.
When attempting to reach them by phone, callers are greeted with a recorded message stating that offices will be closed from June 14 to August 4 while staff is on vacation.
When asked why soliciting donations costs so much, the operator on the phone at Kids Wish Network at least took down our question and promised to pass it along, but at the time of this writing, no one has returned the call.
While founder Mark Breiner was making $130,000 a year as charity president, he went and founded a fundraising company by the name of Dream Giveaway Inc. with a former employee of Kids Wish that continued to collect cash from the latter company in the amount of $4.8 million in fees over the past several years. The IRS failed to find any conflict of interest.
The so-called nonprofit Children's Charity Fund in Sarasota -- ranked 27th -- spent only 2.3 percent of $14.3 million on helping kids. This organization has been the target of state regulators virtually since its inception in 1994. Ken Bowron founded the organization and now draws a retirement check from it. His wife and daughter currently run the charity and are paid more than three times the amount that is spent on medical equipment and granting wishes to sick and dying kids.
What's worse is that charities in Florida are not only stiffing kids but injured firefighters and cops too.
The International Union of Police Associations AFL-CIO in Sarasota, ranked seventh on the list, spent 0.5 percent of its $57.2 million in total solicitations in direct aid, with $41.4 million going to companies that raise money for the organization. For the American Association of State Troopers Inc. (ranked ninth) in Tallahassee, $36 million out of $45 million total went to the solicitors.
Disabled Police Officers of America, Inc. and Disabled Police Officers Counseling Center--both located in Niceville and 30th and 36th on the list, respectively--each spent less than 3 percent of their millions of dollars total cash on direct aid. That's not very nice.
The Firefighters Assistance Fund in Punta Gorda--ranked 43rd--spent only 3.2 percent of its $5.6 million, and the Firefighters Burn Fund in Chiefland--ranked 49th--spent only 1.5 percent of its $2 million in total contributions, on direct aid.
Project Cure (ranked 15th) in Bradenton, the "largest" provider of donated medical supplies and equipment to developing countries, spent 0.0 percent in direct aid from its $51.5 million siphoned from donors over the past ten years. Somehow Forbes ranked this charity as 14th out 20 of the most efficient charities in the U.S.
According the report, Project Cure is one of five charities on the list that are tax-exempt under IRS code, but its donations are not tax-deductible. Apparently it pays a hefty sum of cash to telemarketing companies to raise donations.
And 29th-ranked Defeat Diabetes Foundation in Medeira Beach spent 0.1 percent of its $14.3 million hoard actually defeating diabetes.
Over 6,000 charities across the U.S. were examined for the report. All information was based on tax filings over the past decade.
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