America's worst charities

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

In detail#46: American Foundation for Children With AIDS

Also doing business as: AIDS' Childrens Foundation

UPDATED 8/20/13

Since 2005, American Foundation for Children with AIDS has been holding 5K fun runs and more exotic events, like sponsored climbs up Mount Kilimanjaro, to raise money for its cause. But for its first seven years in operation, most of the charity's donations were raised through the use of high-cost professional fundraisers.

From 2008 to 2011 alone, it raised $4 million in donations and paid 76 percent of that to its for-profit fundraiser.

Nick Cassino, who has been on the charity's board since May 2005, vehemently objected to his charity's inclusion on the Times/CIR list, which is based on historical financial information.

He said the group would have preferred not using professional fundraisers but felt it had no choice in the beginning.

"However, by doing so, AFCA is now able to save the lives of thousands of children," said Cassino, board president.

Tanya Weaver, the charity's executive director, said the group purposely does not provide direct cash aid to any individuals or organizations.

"We use our donations primarily to ship donated medicine, medical supplies, food and school supplies into countries where AFCA has local partners," she said. "Therefore, claiming that AFCA gave no cash aid is grossly misleading."

American Foundation for Children with AIDS spun off from Pediatric AIDS Canada in 2005. The Canadian government revoked Pediatric AIDS' tax-exempt status in 2011 after officials determined it spent too much on fundraisers and inflated the value of its international donations to disguise its lack of charitable spending.

To procure its overseas donations, IRS tax filings show that as recently as 2011 the American Foundation for Children with AIDS contracted with Lifesgood Inc., which is owned by a former officer of the charity. Lifesgood was also the supplier of international donations to Pediatric AIDS Canada.

Weaver said that since late 2011, the charity has been purchasing medicine directly from manufacturers and delivering it free of charge to its partners in Africa.

Today, officials at the American spin-off try to distance their organization from the original.

Cassino said the U.S. group cut ties with its Canadian affiliate before the revocation. "They were relying completely on Xentel (for telemarketing)," he said. "We didn't like their business model so we dissociated ourselves immediately from them."

Though Cassino said there was "little cross-pollination of board members" between the groups, the Canadian group's former executive director remains on the board of the U.S. charity.

Cassino stressed that his charity terminated all fundraising contracts at the end of 2011. The charity's IRS filing for 2012, filed in April, includes no expenses for professional fundraising.

Correction: The American Foundation for Children with AIDS says its mission is "to improve the lives of children and youth struggling with the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic." An earlier version of this article quoted an outdated mission statement.

In their own words: the Charity's mission

To improve the lives of children and youth struggling with the impact of the HIV/AIDS pandemic. (Mission statement was updated on 6/19/13)

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State

American Foundation for Children With AIDS

Known state disciplinary actions

Find out more about the actions in our database

States bringing actions Number of known actions Outcomes Total fines
Maine, Pennsylvania 3 Cease & Desist, Fine/penalties $4,300

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
raised by
was paid
Cash to
the charity
Cash to
direct aid
% cash to
direct aid
totals to
2011 pdf $428,309 $361,003 $67,306 $82,666 $0 0.00% $5,636,340
2010 pdf $631,495 $556,073 $75,422 $0 $0 0.00% $5,452,956
2009 pdf $962,191 $744,760 $217,431 $0 $0 0.00% $6,719,870
2008 pdf $1,093,328 $686,003 $407,325 $0 $0 0.00% $9,556,427
2007 pdf $1,321,968 $378,407 $943,561 $0 $0 0.00% $5,923,150
2006 pdf $749,039 $301,076 $437,963 $0 $0 0.00% $4,486,257
2005 pdf $23,711 $15,248 $8,463 $0 $0 0.00% $3,026,518
zTOTALS $5,210,041 $3,042,570 $2,157,471 $82,666 $0 0.0% $40,801,518

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2010 Courtesy Health Watch $631,495 $556,073 $75,422 11.94% solicitati
2011 Courtesy Health Watch $428,309 $361,003 $67,306 15.70% solicitation