America's worst charities

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

In detail#41: Find the Children

Find the Children was founded by Alan and Linda Landsburg in 1983. The charity's stated mission is to recover missing children and prevent child abuse.

Volunteers help distribute photos of missing children on fliers and stickers placed on vending machines. The charity also organizes presentations in Los Angeles County schools to teach kids how to protect themselves from abduction.

Most of the money collected from donors does not help families and children. About 65 percent goes directly to the charity's telemarketing and vehicle donation companies.

Over the past decade, Find the Children has raised $7.6 million and paid $5 million to its for-profit fundraisers. That makes it No. 41 on the Times/CIR list of America's worst charities.

"When people call and say, 'Why are you using telemarketing?' I explain that it’s a necessary evil with charities today," Executive Director Karen Strickland said. "My goal is to get as much service to our families as I can, so I'm not going to turn down $100,000."

Linda Landsburg died in 2004. Alan Landsburg is the chairman of the board. Strickland told a reporter her charity was not highly dependent on professional fundraisers and claimed they provided less than a third of its revenue. IRS records show that the charity gets about 90 percent of its revenue from professional fundraisers.

When reporters followed up for clarification, Strickland did not respond to multiple calls and emails.

Strickland is paid about $75,000 annually.


In their own words: the Charity's mission

The organization is dedicated to the recovery of missing children and the prevention of the abuse and endangerment of children.

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State


Find the 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 $651,493 $376,016 $275,477 $0 0.00% $252,621
2011 pdf $761,372 $475,553 $285,819 $168,702 $0 0.00% $262,355
2010 pdf $771,422 $525,950 $245,472 $186,913 $9,000 1.17% $291,448
2009 pdf $785,532 $478,554 $306,978 $180,772 $0 0.00% $250,617
2008 pdf $633,341 $360,382 $272,959 $180,842 $0 0.00% $250,940
2007 pdf $679,452 $386,336 $293,116 $174,638 $0 0.00% $286,068
2006 pdf $704,057 $451,915 $252,142 $162,377 $86,613 12.30% $273,914
2005 pdf $788,713 $552,181 $236,532 $155,832 $86,506 10.97% $283,441
2004 pdf $850,762 $609,658 $241,104 $122,302 $78,855 9.27% $212,888
2003 pdf $808,554 $580,758 $227,796 $95,335 $78,393 9.70% $196,862
zTOTALS $7,434,698 $4,797,303 $2,637,395 $1,427,713 $339,367 4.6% $2,561,154

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2010 Jadent $409,161 $298,811 $110,350 26.97% telemarketing
2010 KARS-R-UScom $362,261 $277,139 $135,122 37.30% used cars