America's worst charities

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

In detail#15: Project Cure (Bradenton, FL)

Also doing business as: Alzheimer Disease Fund, National Diabetes Fund, Prostate Cancer Fund, Center For Advanced Heart Research

DISCLAIMER: Project Cure in Bradenton, Florida is not affiliated with similarly named groups in Centennial, Colo., and Dayton, Ohio.

Since 1998, Florida-based Project Cure has raised $65 million to lobby Congress and educate the public about alternative treatments for cancer, diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

But its office off Interstate 75 south of Tampa is little more than a storage unit filled with plastic bins, unused furniture and Christmas decorations. Its lobbying has been limited to less than $3,000 in political donations between 1995 and 2008, according to federal campaign reports. And its educational efforts are a couple of websites that mostly provide links to articles from other sources.

The group also claims that its letters to donors serve an educational purpose. A recent letter on behalf of Project Cure’s Alzheimer Disease Fund included a warning about a possible link between Alzheimer’s disease and exposure to aluminum.

Project Cure’s longtime president, Michael S. Evers, is paid about $200,000 a year. In 2011, the group spent 90 percent of all donations on fundraising fees and expenses. But that still wasn’t enough to cover the cost of fundraising, according to Project Cure’s financial reports.

For at least the last 16 years, Project Cure’s fundraiser has spent more than it raised, leaving the nonprofit in debt. The fundraiser, Direct Response Consulting, has kept track of the money it is owed. At the end of 2011, Project Cure had run up a tab of more than $3 million.

Reached at the house he rents about five miles away from his group's office, Evers, 60, said he frequently works from home. “It’s not necessary to go into the office,” he said.

When asked for details about how he spends his time, Evers ended a phone interview, saying he was “in the middle of editing a new report on Alzheimer’s disease.” In an email, Evers said his group's work led to the creation of the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine within the National Institutes of Health. The center was founded in October 1998.

Dr. Stephen Barrett, a retired psychiatrist who has built a career debunking unproven medical claims, said there are plenty of groups like Project Cure that advocate treatments he considers questionable.

“But those groups actually put out materials or have networks of practitioners,” Barrett said. “There aren’t too many like Project Cure. During the past 10 years, I’ve seen no evidence they’re doing any significant public education.”

Project Cure is one of five groups on the Times/CIR list that is tax-exempt under IRS code but not as a traditional 501c(3) charity. These groups still must register with state regulators to solicit donations, but the donations are not tax-deductible. All five rely heavily on professional telemarketing companies to raise money.

In their own words: the Charity's mission

Statement of program service accomplishments: lobbying-Project Cure's lobbying program is directed at the white house and congress, promoting four programs: the Alzheimer's disease fund, the Center for Advanced Heart Research, the National Diabetes Fund and the Prostate Cancer Fund. At the core of each of these programs is the basic premise that America's health care system, which is geared toward serving the interests of health care providers, must be radically altered to serve the interest of the American public. These programs encourage citizens to communicate their views to lawmakers via petitions, letters, phone calls, and personal visits. Meetings with lawmakers and their aides are also conducted to discuss pertinent health issues and legislation. Education-information regarding heart disease, Alzheimer disease, diabetes, and prostate cancer treatments are disseminated to the public via letters, brochures, printed material, radio and television presentations and participation in seminars, workshops, and debates. Health care providers, media, and others interested in expanding their knowledge in these areas are provided educational information in an effort to broaden the base of research looking into new cutting edge treatments.

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State

Project Cure (Bradenton, FL)

Known state disciplinary actions

Find out more about the actions in our database

States bringing actions Number of known actions Outcomes Total fines
Mississippi, Ohio 2 Disciplined-no details, Fine/penalties $1,000

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
raised by
was paid
Cash to
the charity
Cash to
direct aid
% cash to
direct aid
totals to
2012 pdf $6,758,766 $5,926,900 $831,866 $219,841 $0 0.00% $1,923,962
2011 pdf $5,664,639 $5,103,764 $560,875 $204,144 $0 0.00% $1,504,533
2010 pdf $4,789,628 $3,830,709 $958,919 $201,484 $0 0.00% $1,154,171
2009 pdf $4,894,594 $3,796,783 $1,097,811 $201,995 $0 0.00% $1,149,820
2008 pdf $4,284,739 $3,168,161 $1,116,578 $209,311 $0 0.00% $1,073,269
2007 pdf $4,573,191 $1,180,387 $3,392,804 $2,682,131 $0 0.00% $1,197,330
2006 pdf $5,059,834 $509,932 $4,549,902 $188,074 $0 0.00% $1,241,356
2005 pdf $6,731,724 $495,841 $6,235,883 $178,489 $0 0.00% $1,700,892
2004 pdf $6,412,955 $673,591 $5,739,364 $168,000 $0 0.00% $1,697,232
2003 pdf $4,677,585 $818,872 $3,858,713 $159,000 $0 0.00% $1,191,893
zTOTALS $53,847,655 $25,504,940 $28,342,715 $4,412,469 $0 0.0% $13,834,458

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2011 Direct Response Consulting Services $5,664,639 $343,621 $5,321,018 93.93% consulting