Money going to professional fundraisers: 85.4%
This charity, run by former New York Yankees slugger Frank Tepedino, gets zero stars from CharityNavigator primarily because it spends more than 85% of donations on professional fundraising fees. Just 7.7% goes to the group's stated mission of providing $500 to $1,000 and free hygiene kits to fire victims, as well as small grants to volunteer firefighting companies, fire-prevention educational efforts and the like. CharityNavigator has given the Firefighters Charitable Foundation 11 zero-star ratings in the dozen times it's reviewed the group since 2002, while CharityWatch grades the nonprofit as an "F." Missouri Attorney General Chris Koster included the foundation on a list of "15 Worst Charities" that he issued in 2010. Tepedino admits his group does use high-cost telemarketers for fundraising, but says the nonprofit has no other option. "We can't hire people to do [in-house telemarketing], we have to hire professionals," he says. "We don't have the equipment, we don't have the rooms -- we work off of $10 to $15 donations and we don't get any grants or anything like that." The ex-slugger adds that the foundation does other forms of fundraising in-house. For instance, Tepedino said his group took in some $20,000 to $25,000 at a New York fundraising dinner recently, "and we'll give 100% of that, other than some administrative expenses" to those in need.