America's worst charities

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

In detail#34: Optimal Medical Foundation

Also doing business as: Association for Breast Cancer Research, Childhood Disease Research Foundation, National Charity for Cancer Research

Canadian regulators flagged Janet Eland Greenhalgh's charity for high fundraising costs and doing business with related for-profit companies. Within a year, Greenhalgh had started a new charity, this one in the United States, where fundraising costs are rarely, if ever, a cause for regulator action.

When it applied to the IRS for tax-exempt status, Optimal Medical Foundation estimated it would spend 70 percent of its income, resources and time on research. But tax filings over the past decade show that did not happen.

Instead, the charity raised $7.8 million and spent 97 percent of its donations paying for-profit solicitors. That's left almost nothing for the charity to spend on research into cancer and other childhood diseases — the cause telemarketers used to persuade donors to give.

The charity's single biggest research grant was $10,000, given to a for-profit company where Greenhalgh is vice president.

On paper, Optimal Medical appears to be a generous provider of donated drugs and medical supplies to groups overseas. But such non-cash donations, known as gifts-in-kind, have come under increasing scrutiny from regulators because their true value is hard to verify.

Greenhalgh did not respond to multiple requests for comment. When contacted by reporters, one charity director, Jacob Eapen, a pediatrician, said the board had not met in five years. Another, Robert Goldsmith, a retired professor, said he knew Greenhalgh, but denied ever being on the board. He submitted a formal complaint to the California attorney general after learning from reporters his name was listed on charity documents.

In a letter Greenhalgh wrote to Goldsmith, which he provided to reporters, she agreed to remove his name from the charity's website and filings.

In their own words: the Charity's mission

Optimal Medical Foundation, Inc. was formed as a charitable and educational organization to generally provide education and awareness programs connected with the treatment and cure of diseases that infect children as well as funding research into these same diseases. Principally, the organization will conduct and sponsor research into the causes and cures of diseases that infect children. The corporation will also support and fund research into the causes and treatment of diseases carried by adults which ultimately may affect their newborn children. Additionally, the organization will provide and/or coordinate education and awareness campaigns related to the treatment and prevention of diseases affecting children as well as diseases carried by adults which ultimately may affect their children. These services will also include education of adults regarding potentially hazardous or suspect lifestyles and lifestyle decisions that can have an effect on the health and well being of their children.

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State

Optimal Medical Foundation

Known state disciplinary actions

Find out more about the actions in our database

States bringing actions Number of known actions Outcomes Total fines
South Carolina 1 Suspension 0

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
2012 pdf $208,186 $188,175 $20,011 $102,145 $5,000 2.40% $1,157,115
2011 pdf $338,013 $324,837 $13,176 $0 $5,000 1.48% $2,097,732
2010 pdf $1,581,916 $1,764,378 $-182,462 $0 $10,000 0.63% $2,894,003
2009 pdf $2,094,906 $2,159,274 $-64,368 $0 $0 0.00% $3,255,487
2008 pdf $1,684,098 $1,646,507 $37,591 $0 $0 0.00% $1,576,687
2007 pdf $188,586 $309,486 $-120,900 $0 $0 0.00% $108,380
2006 pdf $69,235 $83,657 $-14,422 $0 $25,000 36.11% $33,352
2005 pdf $712,772 $309,849 $402,923 $0 $0 0.00% $6,348,873
2004 pdf $365,111 $274,864 $90,247 $0 $0 0.00% $215,111
2003 pdf $589,751 $530,176 $59,575 $0 $35,193 5.97% $188,159
zTOTALS $7,832,574 $7,591,203 $241,371 $102,145 $80,193 1.0% $17,874,899

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2008 E-Timed Solutions $182,200 $162,359 $19,841 10.90% telemarketing
2008 Bee LC $162,504 $155,154 $7,350 4.50% telemarketing
2008 Direct Response Consulting Services $1,339,394 $1,328,994 $10,400 0.80% direct mail
2009 E-Timed Solutions $186,227 $149,761 $36,466 19.60% telemarketing
2009 Direct Response Consulting Services $1,735,854 $1,734,987 $867 0.00% direct mail
2009 Bee LC $172,825 $274,526 $-101,701 0.00% telemarketing
2010 E-Timed Solutions $93,141 $69,898 $23,243 25.00% telemarketing
2010 Bee LC $188,767 $317,580 $-128,813 -68.20% telemarketing
2010 Direct Response Consulting Services $1,300,008 $1,376,900 $-76,892 -5.90% direct mail