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Fraudulent Charities: More Often of an Occurrence Than You Think

What usually comes to mind when we think of charities is benevolent, non-profit organizations whose activities are done with the sole purpose of benefitting, relieving, and helping the public. These endeavors, which range from medical research to environmental protection, rely mostly on the donations of good-hearted people. Therefore, in turn, these people expect that one-hundred percent of their contributions are used solely for the charity’s cause. Unfortunately, this is not always the case.

In some charities, a large majority of someone’s donation will be transferred into the foundation’s executives bank accounts, mishandled, or be utilized in whatever way NOT related to the charity’s purpose. As such, we will explore some of the most fraudulent charities and how you can possibly avoid them and others.

Kids Wish Network (Florida)
Kids Wish Network is a “non-profit” organization whose aim is to grant wishes to children with life-threatening conditions, and each year it raises millions of dollars in donations. Sounds pretty good right? Well, in reality, it spends less than 3 cents for each dollar donated helping kids. To see the gravity of this situation, from 2003-2013, Kids Wish Network siphoned nearly $110 million dollars to its corporate solicitors, who are basically lawyers for the organization who raise their donations. An additional $4.8 million has gone to the company’s founder. If you’re interested in funding the wishes of dying kids, donate to the Make-A-Wish Foundation instead of this charity.

Youth Development Fund (Tennessee)
Over the past decade, the Youth Development Fund has raised nearly $30 million dollars from donations by promising that it would be used in educating children about drug abuse and leading a healthy lifestyle. In reality, 80% of donations each year goes to corporate solicitors, and what’s left is used in creating scuba-diving videos starring Rick Bowen, the charity’s founder (not kidding). The charity hires Bowen’s own production company for about $200,000 a year to create the videos.

Collectively, the United States’ 50 worst charities have gathered around $1.3 billion dollars from 2003-2013 and have paid about $1 billion of that amount to solicitors. Now, imagine for a second what could have actually been accomplished with this amount of money: thousands of houses built for the poor, considerable funding for disease research, and educational programs for millions of kids. Absolutely despicable.

So, what can you do to avoid these fraudulent charities?

Always, always, always, the best course of action before donating to any charity is to inspect the charity on one or more of the leading “charity watchdogs” websites, which include Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance and see what they have to say. Other than that just try to corroborate with other people.

Hundley, Chris and Taggart, Kendall. “Above the Law: America’s worst charities.” CNN, 13 Jun,
2013, https://edition.cnn.com/2013/06/13/us/worst-charities/index.html. Accessed 14 Jan. 2021.
Wang, Penelope. “Best and Worst Charities for Your Donations.” Consumer Reports, 22 Nov.
2019, https://www.consumerreports.org/charities/best-charities-for-your-donations/. Accessed 14 Jan. 2021.

Amado Krsul

My name is Amado Krsul. I am a junior from Croatia who was raised in Bolivia and loves video games (mostly Apex Legends and Rocket League). My favorite food is paella. A word that would describe me would be industrious.

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