Charities are a necessary part of our society. Organizations that provide services to those in need are essential in helping people rebuild their lives after a crisis has struck. Unfortunately, some charities have been caught operating in questionable ways, leading donors to stop giving. If you’re thinking of giving money to charity in the future, you should know which organizations aren’t worth it.
Here we’ll give you details on the worst charities to donate to so you don’t waste your money or time supporting these organizations when so many other charitable causes deserve your support.
These are the 10 Worst Charities to Donate to in 2023 (Including Scams and Frauds):
Note: This list is made with social media research examples of people sharing their opinions, news articles & opinions and alerts from Charity Navigator (Top website for Nonprofit Intelligence. Some charities might not be a scam for one person, but they can look like scam for another. It depends on the person's point of view. We are trying to share information and present factual truths. If you think any charities should not be a part of this list, feel free to contact us at email@example.com & we will take it down after a review. Our goal is not to hurt anyone's sentiment but to just share information on what's happening so that the donors won't be affected.
- 1. Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
- 2. Cancer Fund of America
- 3. Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth
- 4. Committee for Missing Children
- 5. Complex Minds UK
- 6. Diamond Jym Ranch Inc.
- 7. A Place to Call Home
- 8. The Disabled Veterans National Foundation
- 9. The Meirim Tikva association
- 10. On Your Feet Inc.
- 8 Things To Look Out for When Donating to a Charity
- Bottom line
1. Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI)
Although not a scam, they are doing their best to save lives at sea. We deeply respect their efforts to save human lives.
But recently, they have been under tremendous flak for the immigrant problems.
This tweet has caused a lot of uproar in communities across the UK.
Some of the comments raise a lot of eyebrows:-
- Tina BoB (From Twitter says:- You are illegal immigrant traffickers. You are to blame for every crime these people commit. See my pinned thread. If it were up to me, I’d have you all arrested & charged. No one should EVER give you money again.)
- Ivor Powell (From Twitter says:- Mark Dowie £189,000-a-year chief executive of the RNLI. How do they justify paying £189,000)
- Scott Stryver (From Twitter says:- Any charity that pays its CEO more than the PM is a scam, in my opinion. Certain it has many brave people doing wonderful work, but that’s not using its funds efficiently & it smacks of politics)
If you also look at the quote tweets from the original video, you can understand that people appreciate the work. Still, they are raising questions about the CEO’s salary and the immigrant problems this charity has been adding.
It can also be considered the Worst Charity to Donate to in the UK (Considering the extravagant salaries it’s CEO boasts off)
2. Cancer Fund of America
The Reynolds family, who run several philanthropic organizations, are considered corrupt. James T. Reynolds draws a reported annual salary of over $200,000 (and he’s open about it). It’s bad enough that he’s getting paid hundreds of thousands of dollars yearly (and you can find out where your donations are going).
Even worse is that the charity (and we’re using the loosest definition of the word) allocates only 2.5 percent of its donations to helping cancer victims’ families and funding cancer research (its main objective). If you’d rather your money go to a recipient that deserves it, choose a different cause.
James Reynolds Jr. faces a judgment of more than $60 million in fines, and Rose Perkins, who runs the Children’s Cancer Fund of America, faces a judgment of around $30 million
Certainly, be considered one of the worst charities to donate to.
3. Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth
The Gibsons are a husband-wife pair operating Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth. This charity claims to help the families of missing children but steals 82% of donations, giving the rest to themselves.
Only 2% of donations go towards the cause, while the rest goes into the pockets of the directors, as per this article.
They are dastardly in every way imaginable, including stealing from people trying to help victims of their crimes. Florida and Iowa have already taken action against them and are currently prohibited from telemarketing in either state. It is a pity that the rest of the country has not.
4. Committee for Missing Children
Operation Lookout National Center for Missing Youth noted that only 2% of donations help locate missing children. Despite wasting time counseling the bereaved families of missing children, David Thelen receives some of the revenue.
The charity’s lack of effort in locating lost children will undoubtedly upset customers.
The Committee for Missing Children has earned a 29% for the Accountability & Finance beacon. This beacon assesses a charity’s financial health (financial efficiency, sustainability, and trustworthiness) and its commitment to governance practices and policies.
Clearly shows why it is one of the worst charities to donate.
5. Complex Minds UK
The “charity’s” name is Complex Minds. They cannot be found on the Charity Commission. A post on TripAdvisor said they hang around tourist destinations and try to catch unsuspecting tourists off their guard by selling cheap plastic tat you can buy to be made at 18 pence per. They can get quite aggressive if you say no
They have a website, but it’s a scam (https://www.complex-minds.co.uk), copied and pasted, and made with wix.com. Their socials lead to all of Wix’s socials.
There are many comments on social media regarding this but no actions so far.
We would recommend avoiding this at any cost.
6. Diamond Jym Ranch Inc.
According to Charity Navigator, they have raised a deep concern advisory as follows:-
On March 19, 2021, ABC News reported on the charges of improper conduct taking place at Diamond Jym Ranch Inc. in an article titled, "Missouri musician pleads guilty to creating fake charity." For this reason, we have issued a High Concern CN Advisory on Diamond Jym Ranch Inc.
On March 5, 2022, ABC News published an article titled, "Missouri performer gets probation in foster kid charity scam."
According to a Reddit user named “Nonprofit Gorgon”,
A performer in the Missouri tourist town of Branson convinced his audiences to donate thousands of dollars to a fake charity for foster children. He ran the scam by creating a diamond Jym Ranch company, making himself the president and a member of its board of directors.
The enterprise purported to provide displaced or homeless children housing, education, food, and other needs. But prosecutors said the guy used the donated money to eat out, pay off credit cards and pay rent and taxes.
So, people just heard him on stage, thought he sounded nice and donated.
He made some decent money for those dinners and rent: https://projects.propublica.org/nonprofits/organizations/464089552
We would highly recommend avoiding donating to this charity. This could be one of the worst charities on the list.
Garrett’s scheme to defraud resulted in a collective loss to his victims of at least $85,525. Garrett admitted that he used the money that he raised for his living expenses, which included frequently dining out at Branson restaurants, credit card debt, rent, taxes, mortgage payments, health insurance, and automobile insurance
7. A Place to Call Home
Charity Navigator has placed this charity under the “High Concern Advisory”
Here are some details by the CN itself:
On September 24, 2021, KSTP reported on the operations of A Place to Call Home, a former charity that has recently dissolved, in an article titled, "Director of Lakeville nonprofit ordered to pay back donations used to buy, fix up house." For this reason, we have issued a High Concern CN Advisory.
Due to a high concern advisory from the giant “Charity Navigator” itself, we recommend not donating to this charity.
8. The Disabled Veterans National Foundation
Although not a scam, this was made to our list due to gross mismanagement.
Despite raising over $115 million in its first six years, the Disabled Veterans National Foundation has not effectively allocated resources.
Over $104 million was paid to contractors rather than veterans, and out of the $115 million raised, over $11 million was spent on 11,000 bags of M&M’s, which veterans apparently didn’t need.
According to the CharityWatch, the Disabled Veterans National Foundation (DVNF) entered into a settlement agreement with the New York Office of the Attorney General and was forgiven of $13.9 million in fundraising debt, it reports nearly $3 million in debt and spending only 8% of its budget on programs
Americans demand high standards from other veteran-related charities, and short of criminal mismanagement of donations, they don’t live up to them. Ineffectual fundraising campaigns result in money being wasted on overhead and administration. Vendors are enriched rather than supporting veterans; too much money is kept in reserves.
Indeed a sad story.
DVNF has also been slapped with an “F” rating by a charity watchdog group for failing to spend the nearly $56 million it raised since 2007 on actual veteran services.
9. The Meirim Tikva association
This can be considered a scam. Let’s start digging one by one:
- Their Youtube channel is terminated due to the following policy: “This account has been terminated due to multiple or severe violations of YouTube’s policy against spam, deceptive practices, and misleading content or other Terms of Service violations.”
- They use music and editing to guilt-trip people into donating.
- They run ad campaigns and waste money that could be used on their “charity” campaigns
- The owner of their website is hidden, and no information regarding the charity organization’s members or owners can be found.
- Trustpilot reviews are enough to understand this charity is full of scams. An absolute 2.3 rating.
One of the reviews caught our attention:-
Scammers. Do not believe these stories! This mafia using children. You see the same in Thailand. No not send money, it will go directly into mafia hands, and not to the sick children!
Donated money 2 weeks ago for the campaign of deaf girl, it’s not the first time, I saw this company running ad campaigns on YouTube, and not the first time I donated money, however what is really disturbing that after donating money, the number of donations for a specific campaign was 97% completed and the amount was almost the same after two weeks, considering that donations were floating to the campaign including mine for 2 weeks !!!
Highly recommend avoiding this charity. Their website is found here
10. On Your Feet Inc.
According to Charity Navigator, this charity has been placed under “High Concern Advisory”
Here are some notes that you should know about:-
On June 10, 2020, The Times of San Diego reported on the charges of improper conduct taking place at On Your Feet in an article titled, "Bonita Couple Admit Stealing Goods Donated to Charity, Keeping Sales." For this reason, we have issued a High Concern CN Advisory on On Your Feet. For more information regarding the charges reported, please see The Times of San Diego article.
On November 7, 2020, The San Diego Union-Tribune published an article titled, "Bonita couple who founded charity sentenced to prison for stealing millions." For more information, please see The San Diego Union-Tribune article.
The charity founders were imprisoned for using the non-profit to steal donors and cheat their taxes.
They used lies and false promises to induce prominent companies to donate valuable goods to the Hills’ 501©(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization, known as On Your Feet, Inc., also known as Family Resource Center
Due to many such concerns of stealing the donation funds, we would highly request and recommend not to donate to this charity.
8 Things To Look Out for When Donating to a Charity
Check Out Charity’s Track Record
The first place to start is with a charity’s track record. Before you even read the mission statement or donate, you can use a website like Charity Navigator to look up the organization and see how it rates in terms of finances, accountability, and other factors that might indicate its worthiness.
This website rates charities based on financial health, transparency, and the efficacy of their spending. So if you can’t find a charity’s rating on Charity Navigator, then you should definitely go with your gut and avoid that organization completely. Charity Navigator is a great resource, but remember, it’s not the only one out there. A few other websites rate charities, like GuideStar.
You can also perform your research by visiting a charity’s website, reading its mission statement, and looking up its organization on sites like Open Charity and GuideStar.
Research the Charity
While searching for a charity, try to discover its mission and goals as much as possible. Find out where the money goes, how it’s spent, and what the charity hopes to accomplish with your donation.
Don’t just take a charity’s word for it—find out what work the charity does. You can do this by reading the organization’s website or checking out its financial statements to see exactly where your donation will go. If you’re struggling to find information about an organization or find that a charity isn’t transparent with its goals, then you should definitely be wary.
You don’t have to donate to a charity that won’t provide details about what they do and where your money goes. It’s better to be safe than sorry, so find a charity upfront and honest with its mission and goals.
If you’re in a situation that requires you to donate money immediately, like if you see a flash flood in your area and there’s a need for sandbags, then you should ask questions about where your money will be going.
You should first ask the people collecting the money where it’s going. You should also ask for a receipt for your donation to see where it’s going. If the people collecting the money can’t provide details about where your money is going, or if they don’t have a receipt, you should definitely be wary.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions; be as diligent as possible when people ask you for money. It’s your money, and you deserve to know where it goes.
Be Wary of pressure to donate immediately
Some charities will try to pressure you into donating immediately. They’ll probably have a grabby headline and a tear-jerking story and likely want your money immediately.
If you get a call or an email requesting money, be wary of the pressure to donate immediately. If a charity representative asks you to donate immediately, that shouldn’t be the case.
Real charities will give you time to mull over the decision and decide whether you want to donate. Don’t donate money to a charity that is pressuring you for cash. If something feels fishy about the situation like if a representative is really pushy about you donating money, you should definitely hang up or end the conversation. You don’t have to give money to people who won’t let you think about the decision first.
Be Wary of overly glowing testimonies
While researching charities and their mission, you might come across some very positive testimonies from people who have benefited from the organization’s services.
It’s always good to see positive testimonies from people who have had a positive experience with a charity. But be cautious if the testimonies are overly positive and unrealistic. It probably is if you read a testimony that seems too good to be true.
If a charity has a lot of testimonies online, but they all seem overly positive, then you should definitely be wary. If you read testimony from someone who benefited from the charity, but the story doesn’t seem realistic, then beware.
Check out the charity’s finances
You want to find out how the charity is managing its finances. You can do this by checking out their financial statements. You can look at the organization’s website or visit sites like Open Charity and see how they manage their finances. The more transparent the charity is with its finances, the better.
Having a transparent financial statement is a great thing. It means you know where your money is going and can see exactly how it is used. If a charity doesn’t want to show you its financial statements, or if they don’t have a transparent financial statement, then you should be worried about and think about your decision. You don’t have to donate to an organization that isn’t upfront and honest with its finances.
Check out the charity’s Cause(s)
You want to ensure that the charity you donate to does the work they say they do. If you know exactly what the charity does, then that’s great. But if you don’t or want to double-check their cause, you can Google their name and see what comes up.
You can also Google the name of the charity you’re considering donating to and look at the organizations they have partnered with. You can also use a tool like Charity Navigator to see which types of causes a charity supports. This can help you evaluate which organizations are best suited to help you.
Watch Out for these Red Flags
Keep an eye out for red flags, like a fake charity website, an unrecognized organization name, a vague mission statement, or an overly energetic person asking for money. If something seems off or out of the ordinary, you should definitely be wary of donating to that organization.
If someone is at your door asking for money for a charity, you should probably just say no. You can’t be sure where the money is going, and donating to organizations that come to your door is not good. If you encounter a situation like this, you should definitely be wary of donating. You don’t have to give money to people knocking on your door, and you don’t have to give money to overly pushy people.
If you want to donate to a charity, you must do it wisely and only support the best causes. After reading this article, we hope you have some insights into how some charities behave and try to misbehave with the donors.
Ofcourse, not all charities are like these. Nonprofits make the world a better place. But due to some charities that do bad things, the good nonprofits face the wrath.
Note: We don't want to mean any disrespect to any nonprofit, worker, or volunteer. They are the pioneers of our community. We have massive respect for everyone. But with this article, we just wanted to share some worst charities & what they are doing.