America's worst charities

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

In detail#28: Wishing Well Foundation USA

A husband and wife formed Wishing Well Foundation in 1995. Its goal is to fulfill wishes for terminally ill children. Over the past decade, the organization has spent less than 5 percent of the $12 million raised on wishes.

In its most recent tax filing, the charity's founder, Elwin LeBeau, was paid about $62,000.

In 1999, the Minnesota attorney general accused the organization of misleading donors. The state said its telemarketers implied it was a well-known wish-granting organization and claimed that a large portion of their gifts would help children in Minnesota.

The charity and its fundraiser agreed to pay about $60,000 to settle the case. Neither admitted wrongdoing. At the time, Wishing Well’s attorney, Matthew Brown, told the American Institute of Philanthropy, a watchdog organization, that the charity had stopped hiring professional fundraisers. But since then, the organization has spent almost $10 million on the for-profit companies.

When reached by phone, Robin Withers, an official at the charity, requested questions in writing. In response, the charity sent dozens of pages of photographs, newspaper articles and testimonials supporting the charity's work.

"We have tried in the past to operate without fundraiser assistance, but we could not grant the wishes of the children we wanted to help without fundraiser assistance," according to an unsigned statement included in the package. Withers did not respond to specific questions.


In their own words: the Charity's mission

Wishing Well Foundation USA Inc was organized for the purpose of fulfilling the fondest wish for any terminally ill child not expected to reach 18 years of age.

Unedited mission statements provided by the Colorado Secretary of State


Wishing Well Foundation USA

Known state disciplinary actions

Find out more about the actions in our database

States bringing actions Number of known actions Outcomes Total fines
Minnesota 1 Consent/settlement $22,500

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 $1,160,442 $1,019,817 $140,625 $127,618 $39,510 3.40% $116,445
2010 pdf $1,228,576 $991,075 $237,401 $127,674 $26,406 2.15% $105,375
2009 pdf $1,204,842 $952,336 $252,506 $126,892 $56,383 4.68% $133,724
2008 pdf $1,295,101 $1,070,635 $224,466 $135,032 $57,861 4.47% $135,588
2007 pdf $1,374,749 $1,049,341 $325,408 $129,554 $102,090 7.43% $181,932
2006 pdf $1,328,361 $1,053,008 $275,353 $138,278 $96,328 7.25% $170,803
2005 pdf $1,504,770 $1,191,239 $313,531 $130,583 $64,235 4.27% $137,686
2004 pdf $1,360,025 $1,046,799 $313,226 $131,270 $45,509 3.35% $124,361
2003 pdf $1,086,433 $823,203 $263,230 $133,309 $34,160 3.14% $114,177
2002 pdf $850,815 $620,240 $230,575 $137,483 $43,971 5.17% $120,746
zTOTALS $12,394,114 $9,817,693 $2,576,321 $1,317,693 $566,453 4.6% $1,340,837

Who raised the money

Year Solicitor Cash raised Cash to solicitor Cash to charity % to charity Activity
2008 Telenet & Associates $477,045 $374,898 $102,147 21.40% telemarketer
2008 Community Services (Milwaukee, WI) $52,765 $47,557 $5,208 9.90% telemarketer
2008 Contract Communications $47,741 $47,557 $184 0.40% telemarketer
2008 Jek Marketing $315,871 $255,755 $60,116 19.00% telemarketer
2008 Midwest Response $401,679 $344,868 $56,811 14.10% telemarketer
2009 Midwest Response $480,862 $408,707 $72,155 15.00% telemarketer
2009 Telenet & Associates $369,048 $305,378 $63,670 17.30% telemarketer
2009 Jek Marketing $257,875 $219,187 $38,688 15.00% telemarketer
2009 Contract Communications $51,528 $0 $51,528 100.00% telemarketer
2009 Community Services (Milwaukee, WI) $22,593 $19,064 $3,529 15.60% telemarketer
2009 Metairie Fundraiser $22,071 $0 $22,071 100.00% telemarketer
2009 Metairie Gifts Received $865 $0 $865 100.00% telemarketer
2010 Telenet & Associates $366,519 $307,778 $58,741 16.03% telemarketer
2010 Jek Marketing $193,359 $182,669 $10,690 5.53% telemarketer
2010 Metairie Fundraiser $19,248 $0 $19,248 100.00% telemarketer
2010 Metairie Gifts Received $727 $0 $627 86.24% telemarketer
2010 Midwest Response $482,160 $409,890 $72,270 14.99% telemarketer
2010 Contract Communications $52,299 $0 $52,299 100.00% telemarketer
2010 T&T Rettig $114,264 $90,738 $23,526 20.59% telemarketer
2011 Jek Marketing $162,020 $181,816 $-19,796 -12.20% telemarketer
2011 Telenet & Associates $364,223 $300,768 $63,455 17.40% telemarketer
2011 T&T Rettig $123,374 $102,837 $20,537 16.60% telemarketer
2011 Midwest Response $510,825 $434,396 $76,429 15.00% telemarketer

Who got direct cash aid

Year Recipient Cash received Location
2010 Payments to terminally ill children $26,406