America's worst charities

Our ranking based on cash paid to solicitors in the past decade

In detail#4: American Breast Cancer Foundation

Phyllis Wolf started American Breast Cancer Foundation in 1997 and presided over one of the most wasteful charities in the nation for 13 years.

The charity lured donors by promising to pay for breast cancer screenings. Under Wolf, almost nothing made it to sick and dying women. Instead, she signed contracts with more than a half dozen professional fundraisers and paid them nearly 75 cents of every dollar raised.

Her son, Joseph A. Wolf, was among those who profited the most. After serving as the charity's vice president for three years, Joseph Wolf formed a telemarketing company, Non Profit Promotions. Between 2003 and 2010, his company was paid nearly $18 million to raise donations for his mother's charity. The relationship was not disclosed on IRS filings until 2006.

In June 2010, after negative publicity about the Wolf contract, the charity's board forced Phyllis Wolf to resign and terminated the contract with her son. Wolf received $126,500 in salary that year; her son's company got $134,733. Cancer patients got $20,000 in mammogram assistance that year.

Neither Phyllis nor Joseph Wolf responded to calls for comment. Both have ended their affiliation with the charity.

In January 2011, Janet Rosen replaced Wolf as chief executive officer. Rosen ended all telemarketing contracts as they expired, with the last one terminating at the end of 2012. Rosen, who previously was a regional director for a cystic fibrosis charity, said American Breast Cancer Foundation is now using community events to raise money. In its latest tax filing, the charity reported giving a total of $100,000 to five medical facilities to help pay for breast cancer screening services for low-income women.


In their own words: the Charity's mission

The purposes of the American Breast Cancer Foundation are exclusively charitable, educational and nonprofit as defined under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. To raise funds for the research of breast cancer; educate the public through newsletters, tapes and public speaking; and supply free mammograms for women who are unable to afford them.

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State


American Breast Cancer Foundation

Known state disciplinary actions

Find out more about the actions in our database

States bringing actions Number of known actions Outcomes Total fines
Florida, Maine, Pennsylvania 3 Fine/penalties $7,800

Fundraising and spending history

For years prior to 2008, cash raised from other sources might be included in the "cash raised by solicitors" column.

Year 990
form
Cash
raised by
solicitors
Solicitor
was paid
Cash to
the charity
Charity
salaries
Cash to
direct aid
% cash to
direct aid
Reported
totals to
programs
2011 pdf $1,080,163 $883,789 $196,374 $412,453 $100,000 9.26% $710,430
2010 pdf $4,170,359 $3,151,569 $1,018,790 $660,123 $390,967 9.37% $1,333,336
2009 pdf $3,545,252 $2,953,349 $591,903 $1,137,007 $20,000 0.56% $2,627,906
2008 pdf $7,670,105 $5,475,192 $2,194,913 $1,013,433 $15,705 0.20% $4,475,915
2007 pdf $9,958,431 $7,560,325 $2,398,106 $1,035,930 $81,730 0.82% $7,174,337
2006 pdf $15,338,007 $11,642,516 $3,695,491 $860,001 $1,940,469 12.65% $9,347,626
2005 pdf $16,171,600 $12,726,319 $3,445,281 $515,310 $977,416 6.04% $9,788,268
2004 pdf $11,167,248 $6,640,858 $4,526,390 $403,475 $382,649 3.43% $5,899,428
2003 pdf $7,284,230 $5,655,373 $1,628,857 $333,109 $151,390 2.08% $3,790,456
2002 pdf $4,428,887 $3,077,522 $1,351,365 $451,963 $187,551 4.23% $3,240,609
zTOTALS $80,814,282 $59,766,812 $21,047,470 $6,822,804 $4,247,877 5.3% $48,388,311

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2008 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $1,447,921 $1,193,481 $254,440 17.60% telemarketing
2008 Jak Productions $654,854 $565,181 $89,673 13.70% telemarketing
2008 The Dale Corp $592,437 $459,253 $133,184 22.50% telemarketing
2008 Dennis Marketing Group (Baltimore, MD) $562,224 $495,193 $67,031 11.90% telemarketing
2008 Preferred Community Services $208,127 $165,039 $43,088 20.70% telemarketing
2008 Non Profit Promotion $2,248,963 $919,494 $1,329,469 59.10% direct mail
2008 Organizational Development $1,955,579 $1,677,551 $278,028 14.20% telemarketing
2009 Preferred Community Services $185,991 $141,212 $44,779 24.08% telemarketing service
2009 Organizational Development $1,674,413 $1,455,171 $219,242 13.09% telemarketing service
2009 Jak Productions $593,906 $481,270 $112,636 18.97% telemarketing service
2009 Directele $409,544 $346,435 $63,109 15.41% telemarketing service
2009 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $681,398 $529,261 $152,137 22.33% telemarketing service
2010 Newport Creative Communications $1,509,700 $921,834 $587,866 38.90% direct mail
2010 Organizational Development $1,380,857 $1,186,137 $194,720 14.10% telemarketing
2010 Jak Productions $542,444 $453,498 $88,946 16.40% telemarketing
2010 Directele $435,339 $346,832 $88,507 20.30% telemarketing
2010 Preferred Community Services $233,564 $188,692 $44,872 19.20% telemarketing
2010 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $68,455 $54,576 $13,879 20.30% telemarketing
2011 Organizational Development $456,917 $387,979 $68,938 15.10% telemarketing
2011 Jak Productions $156,327 $128,095 $28,232 18.10% telemarketing
2011 Directele $58,096 $47,550 $10,546 18.20% telemarketing
2011 Preferred Community Services $28,530 $22,668 $5,862 20.50% telemarketing