(I wrote this back in March but never published it anywhere. I think it deserves to be posted; if it prevents someone from interacting with this questionable organization — or at least take pause before doing so — then perhaps it’s worth it.)
Yesterday, March 14, 2015, I had a terrible experience during my search for scholarships. I was diagnosed with cancer when I was 8 and finished up treatment two-and-a-half years later. I’ve recently been searching for cancer-related scholarships, and one organization I came across is named Cancer Survivors’ Fund (CSF). Their mission statement is to “provide scholarships for young cancer survivors,” “provide prosthetic limbs to disadvantaged young adults,” and here’s the best bit: “counsels, provides emotional support, and motivates young cancer survivors and channel their thoughts and dreams to a healthy and productive future.”
I am a detail-oriented person. I borderline enjoy ensuring that everything I’m planning to do is in order and ready to go. It isn’t obsessive or compulsive, I am just thorough. So, once I realized that pertinent information to the application process on their website was missing, I sent an email requesting how I could best send in a particular document which they needed. Their initial response was extremely short and perhaps I’m blowing it all out of proportion, but for an organization claiming to be charitable, their response lacked any sort of professionalism or compassion.
Here is my original email:
I thought my original inquiry was reasonable and polite, so that’s why their response was, and still is, somewhat shocking. I actually responded to their email—I was harsh, too—because I thought it was warranted. There was a short string of correspondence, and each of their replies were unprofessional, rude, and backhanded. During all of this, I looked into their history as an organization. (I should have done this before giving them any thought whatsoever in the first place, but hindsight is 20/20.) Forget their personal interaction with me, pay attention to this: their record is horrendous. According to Charity Navigator, their overall score, out of 100, is 25.53. Their financial score is 0, and their accountability and transparency is rated at 67. Charities which are listed as “performing similar types of work” as CSF were ranked nowhere near as low as this organization. The other scores I see range from low 70s to high 90s, so this group must be especially terrible. There are other sources which include this organization in the “worst” section of their “best and worst charities” lists. According to the Better Business Bureau, CSF has either “not responded” to requested information or “has declined to be evaluated in relation to BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.” In 2010, CSF even made it to the Missouri attorney general’s “15 Worst Charities” list. At best, this organization is extremely questionable and dubious. Its expenditures are incredibly skewed (certainly not favoring the alleged mission of the group) and oversight and accountability are severely lacking.
Until or unless there is more transparency, I would avoid this group. Their actions do not line up with their proclaimed intentions whatsoever.
Edit [5/30/2015]: I found more sources that have reported on this organization within the last year. Most seem to draw the information from Charity Navigator, but this Houston-based news station included some information from the local BBB chapter — take a look (CSF is based in Missouri City, TX, which is in Greater Houston).
Additional news reports here and here. Additional Charity Navigator info on CSF here and here.