America's worst charities

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

In detail#44: Caring for Our Children Foundation

For 17 years, Melody and Mike Gibson ran Operation Lookout, a Washington-based charity that says it helps the families of missing children. When donations began to flag in 2001, the Gibsons formed a second charity that was designed to raise additional donations and send any money left after expenses to Operation Lookout.

Caring for Our Children Foundation's sole purpose, according to Melody Gibson, is to "raise funds for Operation Lookout's overhead and at-risk youth projects."

Both of the Gibsons' charities are among the worst in the nation, according to the Times/CIR investigation. Over the past decade, Caring for Our Children has raised $4.7 million and paid $4.1 million of that to professional solicitors. The charity sent an average of $22,000 a year to Operation Lookout to be spent on programs and overhead.

On tax filings in 2011, the Gibsons reported taking no salary from Caring for Our Children.

For about a year, Caring for Our Children operated a thrift store, paying Melody Gibson $4,500 as manager. According to the charity, the store also offered training to unemployed parents. The Gibsons closed the store in 2012 when it began losing money.

Melody Gibson, who is now the unpaid treasurer for Caring for Our Children, said the charity offers nonmonetary services to parents, including hosting a website that has articles about child abuse and sexual assault. She said it also offers Operation Lookout administrative services, which allow that charity to have lower overhead costs and focus "solely on missing child casework."

Gibson said outside solicitors not only raise money, they also perform charitable work by telling the public about the two charities' programs. Gibson called the fundraising arrangement "a cost-effective formula for the charity."

"The call center is not pocketing funds and duping donors," she said.


Caring for Our Children Foundation

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 $555,387 $497,260 $58,127 $18,680 $722 0.13% $294,985
2010 pdf $666,286 $569,222 $61,308 $35,510 $2,780 0.42% $103,331
2009 pdf $528,838 $452,364 $76,474 $4,830 $10,654 2.01% $67,363
2008 pdf $603,107 $521,508 $81,599 $0 $24,646 4.09% $112,516
2007 pdf $583,274 $497,262 $86,012 $0 $23,850 4.09% $278,691
2006 pdf $562,442 $487,046 $75,396 $0 $8,200 1.46% $255,812
2005 pdf $518,184 $451,448 $66,736 $0 $4,815 0.93% $68,909
2004 pdf $494,088 $450,843 $43,245 $0 $830 0.17% $63,931
2003 pdf $218,115 $189,251 $28,864 $0 $1,000 0.46% $24,066
2002 pdf $5,837 $0 $0 0.00% 0
zTOTALS $4,735,558 $4,116,204 $577,761 $59,020 $77,497 1.6% $1,269,604

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2010 Midwest Publishing (Phoenix, AZ) $666,286 $421,054 $245,232 36.81% fr