America's worst charities

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

In detail#23: American Foundation For Disabled Children

For American Foundation for Disabled Children, 2011 was a typical year.

It raised $2.1 million by promising to send disabled and homeless kids to camp. But after paying professional fundraisers their cut, the charity wound up with about $250,000, barely enough to pay its own expenses and the part-time treasurer's $48,000 salary. Sick children paid the price.

With little money left, the charity did not spend a single dime on children, according to its own 2011 tax filings with the IRS. Instead of cash, the charity reported handing out $1 million worth of donated goods.

It has been the same story at American Foundation for Disabled Children, year after year. Started in 1991, it routinely keeps less than 20 percent of the donations raised in its name. Over the past decade it has raised $16.4 million, paid its fundraisers $13.4 million and given children less than 1 percent of total donations, aTimes/CIR analysis of IRS records shows.

Instead of cash assistance, children get donated items. Photos on the charity's website show children playing with toys. But there is no way to verify the value of what was handed out. The charity's financial reports do not describe the goods or say who received them.

The charity's website also describes gardening therapy and sailing programs, as well as camp scholarships. None of these expenses are reflected on the group's IRS filings, however. John Cryan, the treasure and only paid executive, did not respond to emails, telephone calls or a certified letter seeking more information.

Last year, the group settled a trademark infringement lawsuit filed by a California charity that claimed American Foundation for Disabled Children solicited using its name. As part of the settlement, the foundation returned about $3,300 in donations raised in California.


In their own words: the Charity's mission

The American Foundation for Disabled Children, Inc. (AFDCI) was founded to encourage and maximize the development, dignity, productivity, main streaming and social interaction of disabled, disadvantaged and otherwise challenged children with society at large. In general, AFDCI seeks to serve as a catalyst for other resources to aid in bridging unfunded gaps in existing funding.

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State


American Foundation For Disabled Children

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
2012 pdf $2,031,128 $1,850,603 $180,525 $0 0.00% $1,653,003
2011 pdf $2,115,972 $1,869,618 $246,354 $72,572 $0 0.00% $1,080,267
2010 pdf $2,303,308 $1,940,121 $363,187 $103,308 $37,824 1.64% $1,953,923
2009 pdf $1,061,463 $997,193 $64,270 $68,536 $9,864 0.93% $1,132,315
2008 pdf $1,200,549 $1,022,776 $177,773 $67,579 $0 0.00% $793,176
2007 pdf $1,271,718 $980,214 $291,504 $62,471 $0 0.00% $1,157,698
2006 pdf $1,198,034 $915,523 $282,511 $62,449 $10,010 0.84% $1,539,806
2005 pdf $1,303,647 $1,020,493 $283,154 $67,877 $13,645 1.05% $675,944
2004 pdf $1,473,053 $1,313,861 $159,192 $50,079 $0 0.00% $164,366
2003 pdf $1,885,353 $1,522,088 $363,265 $21,491 1.14% $213,723
zTOTALS $15,844,225 $13,432,490 $2,411,735 $554,871 $92,834 0.6% $10,364,221

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2008 Courtesy Call $155,606 $132,956 $22,650 14.60% professional fundraising
2008 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $457,810 $409,016 $48,794 10.70% professional fundraising
2008 Newport Creative Communications $579,902 $475,540 $104,362 18.00% fundraising counseling
2008 Campaign Center $7,231 $5,264 $1,967 27.20% professional fundraising
2009 Newport Creative Communications $524,892 $499,855 $25,037 4.77% f/r counsel
2009 Courtesy Call $85,747 $73,539 $12,208 14.24% prof f/r
2009 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $450,824 $423,799 $27,025 5.99% prof f/r
2010 Courtesy Call $163,297 $128,070 $35,227 21.60% professional fundraising
2010 Community Support (Milwaukee, WI) $1,620,406 $1,345,252 $275,154 17.00% professional fundraising
2010 Newport Creative Communications $519,605 $466,799 $52,806 10.20% fundraising counseling