America's Worst Charities

A series by the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting in partnership with CNN

Why we did the series

The U.S. Navy Veterans Association story made us wonder:

How do you find the bad actors among 1.6 million nonprofits in America?

How we did the series

We collected and analyzed financial data filed by charities and fundraisers with states and the IRS.

We interviewed regulators, charity executives, professional solicitors, government officials and nonprofit experts.

What we learned

Government oversight is lax with little communication among the states.

Each year professional solicitors report how much they raised for charities and how much they retained.

Nobody looked at how much  these solicitors were retaining over time.

Our Findings

More than $1.35 billion donated to  the 50 worst charities over the past decade.

Nearly $1 billion was kept by the for-profit solicitors.

Almost none of it made it to people in need


"Every charity uses professional fundraisers."

"Overhead costs aren't a fair way to judge charities."

"I've never stopped liking Moon Pies." 


Investigate before you give.

Watch for similar sounding charities.

Hang up and give direct.
How much aid is cash?

What they tell donors

What they send patients:


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