Breast cancer charity under fire for use of funds

Published 04/24 2014 05:33PM

Updated 04/24 2014 08:00PM

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - The Better Business Bureau of Utah blasted the Cancer Fund of America in a recent report, claiming the agency has donated less than 10 percent of its funds to patients. 

The organization which also operates under the name Breast Cancer Financial Assistance Fund is based in Knoxville, Tennessee, but they claim to have an office at about 69 hundred South and 9th East.  

However, ABC4 Utah found there is no such office.  While cameras weren't allowed inside, a nearby business owner said the BCFA has not operated an office there for more than a year. 

Regardless, the organization is still after Utahns' money. 

"They are soliciting Utahns here in Utah to give to the Breast Cancer Financial Assistance Fund," Jane Driggs said. 

As the President of Utah's Better Business Bureau, she said the BCFA asks for money in both phone calls and letters then claims to give cancer patients cash, hygiene supplies, nutritional drinks, and even adult undergarments. 

Driggs claimed many Utahns found the claims shady. 

"Consumers thought they were a little bit pushy trying to get the money," she said.  "Charities aren't necessarily, usually pushy." 

The Better Business Bureau found that in 2012, the BCFA raised more than 448 thousand dollars with the help of a Utah telemarketing firm called Corporations for Character. 

"You can look at the company's 9-90s, their IRS forms," Driggs said. 

Those forms show that only about 8 percent of money raised went to patients because Corporations for Character pocketed the rest. 

"I'm appalled that they would send so little money to charity and that a charity would hire them knowing that so little of everyone's hard earned money is going to help people who actually have cancer," Driggs said. 

However, the agency has not comitted a crime. 

"Unfortunately, they can keep as much money as they want," Driggs told ABC4 Utah.  "There is no law that they can't."

The question remains, if you donate to charity how can you make sure your money really makes a difference?

Driggs said, "When you get a phone call from a charity, you need to take a step back and check out that charity first." 

Then, beware of telemarketers.

"It's a big red flag that a lot of money is actually going to the telemarketer than to the program," Driggs said. 

ABC4 Utah put in several calls to Corporations for Character and visited the BCFA's payment processing center owned by the Utah company.  No one could comment on the Better Business Bureau's claims.  However, the firm and its sister company, Feature Films for Families have a colored past.  Both were subject to a federal investigation in 2011 for misrepresenting how charity donations raised would be used. 

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