America's worst charities

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

In detail#2: Cancer Fund of America

Also doing business as: Breast Cancer Financial Assistance Fund

Cancer Fund of America, started in 1984, claims in pledge letters that it is on the front lines of the fight against cancer. But its main activity has nothing to do with funding research or paying for cancer treatment. Instead, the charity collects donated goods — including shampoo, DVDs and air fresheners — and ships them across the nation to dying patients and the families who have gone broke trying to save them.

Cancer patients get help to make their lives a little easier. But while gift baskets are made up of trinkets and toiletries, for-profit fundraisers take home millions of dollars every year. CFA's founder and at least a dozen other family members earn a total of $1 million in salaries from CFA and four spin-off charities.

The waste has been going on for decades. Year after year CFA raises millions and sends 82 percent to its for-profit fundraisers. Over the past decade, fundraisers have collected $98 million in donations. Patients have gotten less than $1 million in direct cash aid over those 10 years, IRS records show.

As far back as 1991, CFA's founder, James T. Reynolds Sr., said he intended to reduce the charity's high-fundraising costs. But more than 20 years later, fundraising still takes more than 83 cents of every dollar raised.

Reynolds referred all questions to his attorney. Regarding his charity's fundraising expenses, he said, "I can't help it that some things are costly."

"We can only help others with the funds we net whether it be 90 or 20 percent," Reynolds said.


In their own words: the Charity's mission

Cancer Fund's mission is to provide direct financial aid and other support and services to financially indigent cancer patients; to distribute information concerning the early detection and prevention of cancer; to provide grants and gifts in kind to hospices, other health care providers, and to various 501(c)(3) non-profit community service organizations which aid the ill, needy and infants.

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State


Cancer Fund of America

Known state disciplinary actions

Find out more about the actions in our database

States bringing actions Number of known actions Outcomes Total fines
Connecticut, Georgia, Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Vermont 7 Consent/settlement, Fine/penalties $525,000

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 $6,025,451 $5,016,543 $1,008,908 $1,710,945 $14,940 0.25% $19,276,744
2010 pdf $6,680,658 $5,503,074 $1,177,584 $1,473,961 $4,549 0.07% $16,551,363
2009 pdf $5,428,036 $4,523,846 $904,190 $1,393,402 $3,600 0.07% $15,832,179
2008 pdf $6,718,792 $5,504,786 $1,214,006 $1,355,926 $6,980 0.10% $8,711,073
2007 pdf $8,876,385 $7,287,018 $1,589,367 $1,182,258 $54,950 0.62% $5,518,601
2006 pdf $9,313,671 $7,737,826 $1,575,845 $1,221,046 $11,562 0.12% $4,294,092
2005 pdf $11,151,834 $9,109,644 $2,042,190 $1,364,241 $83,837 0.75% $7,467,343
2004 pdf $13,781,291 $13,186,685 $594,606 $1,405,696 $96,854 0.70% $5,901,460
2003 pdf $13,734,047 $13,290,502 $443,545 $1,152,716 $565,873 4.12% $6,047,836
2002 pdf $16,291,957 $9,257,129 $7,034,828 $1,162,510 $48,667 0.30% $4,482,040
zTOTALS $98,002,122 $80,417,053 $17,585,069 $13,422,701 $891,812 0.9% $94,082,731

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2010 Vehicle Donation Processing Center $904,552 $745,676 $158,876 17.60% car auction
2010 Organizational Development $135,225 $114,572 $20,653 15.30% telemarketing
2010 Source 2000 $546,982 $492,284 $54,698 10.00% telemarketing
2010 T&T Rettig $74,418 $61,375 $13,043 17.50% telemarketing
2010 Insight Teleservices $873,789 $751,458 $122,331 14.00% telemarketing
2010 Car Program $106,673 $79,556 $27,117 25.40% car auction
2010 Community Relations $450,168 $382,402 $67,766 15.10% telemarketing
2010 Bee LC $389,136 $304,786 $84,350 21.70% telemarketing
2010 Associated Community Services (Southfield, MI) $2,747,178 $2,195,359 $551,819 20.10% telemarketing
2010 Corporations For Character $452,537 $375,606 $76,931 17.00% telemarketing

Who got gift-in-kind donations

Year Recipient Value claimed Gift type
2011 St Michael's Hospice $5,326 medical supplies
2011 Yolanda G Barco Oncology Institute $19,076 medical supplies
2011 Cancer Connection Of Northwest Ohio $10,189 medical supplies
2011 Farragut Church Of Christ $14,292 medical supplies
2011 Pitt County Public Health Center $8,311 medical supplies
2011 The Lighthouse Mission $8,303 medical supplies
2011 Sunshine Ambassadors Inc $5,291 medical supplies
2011 Comfort Care Hospice $14,012 medical supplies
2011 Sunny Day Adult Day Services $5,803 medical supplies
2011 Roy Richards Sr Cancer Center $15,158 medical supplies
2011 Putnam Co Cookeville Senior $8,335 medical supplies
2011 Victory Angel Fdn $5,831 medical supplies
2011 Hospice Of Limestone County $8,104 medical supplies
2011 Trinity Chapel Church $5,572 medical supplies
2011 Healthy Start Baby Love Plus $5,236 medical supplies
2011 Seasha $47,629 medical supplies
2011 Angelic Ministry $28,256 medical supplies
2011 Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church $14,342 medical supplies
2011 North Mississippi Medical Center $23,635 medical supplies
2011 Vna Hospice And Home Health $6,025 medical supplies
2011 Individuals $1,992,132 medical supplies
2011 The People'S Christian Assembly $8,978 medical supplies
2011 Bertie Co Health Dpt $5,553 medical supplies
2011 Green River Hospice $7,688 medical supplies
2011 Patient Navigator Program $6,352 medical supplies
2011 Anmed Health Infusion Center $13,798 medical supplies
2011 Beaver Dam Baptist Church $14,855 medical supplies
2011 Angels Of Mercy/Higher Ground $7,718 medical supplies
2011 Morgan County Head Start $12,438 medical supplies
2011 Angelic Hospice $25,772 medical supplies
2011 American Cancer Society $9,934 medical supplies
2011 American Association For Cancer Sup $18,506 medical supplies
2011 Buchanan Community Food Pantry $31,834 medical supplies
2011 Cancer Services Of Erie Co $19,376 medical supplies
2011 Clarion Forest Vna Hospice $5,999 medical supplies
2011 Greene Co Health Dpt $34,974 medical supplies
2011 Hospice Of Scotland County $6,070 medical supplies
2011 Nblic-Birmingham $31,688 medical supplies
2011 Judith Karman Hospice $12,777 medical supplies
2011 Ky River Area Dev Dist $21,403 medical supplies
2011 All Other Organizations < $5000 $153,091 medical supplies
2011 Mission Of Peace $11,278 medical supplies
2011 Healthy Start Baby Love Plus $19,281 medical supplies
2011 Lehigh Valley Health Network $6,322 medical supplies
2011 Knox County Community Action $5,017 medical supplies
2011 Karmanos Cancer Institute $6,112 medical supplies
2011 Mercy Hospice $5,799 medical supplies