13 Undercover

Woodlands cancer charity a family business?

Sunday, November 10, 2013
Woodlands cancer charity a family business? Where exactly are your donations to cancer charity going? Breast cancer charitys finances put in spotlight

Greg Anderson says he'd like to give 13 Undercover a straight answer about how a cancer charity in The Woodlands spends millions you donate.

13 Undercover has already reported less than one percent of donations received by the Breast Cancer Charities of America goes directly to financial assistance for women battling the disease through the groups highly publicized Help Now Fund.

Now, we are tracking down a key player connected to the group which has been criticized by several charity watchdogs.

His name is Greg Anderson, and he says he's a cancer survivor.

He's involved in a handful of cancer charities, including the Breast Cancer Charities of America in The Woodlands.

I wanted to talk to him about his work with the charity.

Anderson seems like a nice guy. We tracked him down outside the office of the Breast Cancer Charities of America because he didn't respond to our initial calls and emails to set up an interview.

Anderson is very familiar to the three charity watchdog organizations we've spoken to during our investigation that criticize the group for how much it spends on fundraising and inadequate transparency.

"Charity Watch gives them an F grade," Daniel Borochoff with Charity Watch said.

Here's another area of concern for watchdogs: the charity seems to be largely run by one family. Anderson's daughter, Erica Tullis, is the executive director of The Woodlands charity. And Anderson's wife is also on the board of directors.

"It's an organization that is very much in the family, and that's not really what we see very often," said Leah Napoliello with the Better Business Bureau.

Greg Anderson is not on the board, but he has a big role to play.

Erica Tullis' charity pays a different charity operated by her father -- Cancer Recovery Foundation International -- to help run her operation.

So we tried to get Anderson to explain why out of the $45 million in donations given to The Woodlands charity, only $187,000 has been given directly to women through its main program -- the Help Now Fund.

"What I'd like to do is just find out while we're here where the millions of dollars go," I asked. "Can you just tell us where all the money goes? "

"It goes to help people with cancer," Anderson said.

"But your records show very little of the money goes to help people with cancer," I replied.

Anderson has created an international network of several cancer charities and was paid $171,000 in salary in 2011 by Cancer Recovery Foundation International for his work with that group.

Earlier this year, another one of his charities -- Children's Cancer Recovery -- was called one of the worst charities in America in a joint investigation by several major news organizations.

The report found it raised about $35 million through professional solicitors and paid those companies about 80 percent of what was collected over the past decade.

Anderson took issue with the report and how it calculated its findings, and he says his group follows all accounting and IRS guidelines.

But fundraising is apparently not a fun topic for Anderson to talk about.

"Will you tell people how much the fundraiser keeps? Is it 80 percent?" I asked.

"Please set up an interview," Anderson replied.

Anderson finally appeared willing to sit down and answer questions.

"You'll sit down with us," I said.

"I'll talk to you," Anderson replied.

"No pre-questions, something's off the table. Nothing," I said.

"I think we know where you want to go," Anderson replied.

"We just want to talk to you about where the money goes," I told Anderson.

"I'd like to give you a straight answer," he said.

Anderson never sat down for an interview.

Instead, he later sent a letter accusing me of misrepresenting the Breast Cancer Charities of America's finances and good works.

He later posted videos on YouTube, claiming a low percentage of what they spend goes to fundraising.

"Although it slightly varies from one affiliate to another, approximately 20 percent is in our overhead and that includes 15 percent into fundraising," Anderson said on a YouTube video.

And blasting our reporting.

"I guess my main beef with the media is that they're so focused, so...they want the sensational and they'll go to real extremes to do it," Anderson said on a video.

But three different charity watchdog groups say when it comes to transparency, this charity falls short.

"They haven't been open and transparent with us," Napoliello said. "We haven't been able to review them according to the BBB's charity standards, so that's a very concerning aspect to this organization."

The charity gave us some financial records, but when we asked for more detailed records they refused.

But since we started asking questions about its finances, the charity has now posted all of its internal annual independent audits on its website.

We're also making the records we have gotten from the charity available for you to see for yourself. Find their tax forms and audit reports in the "Related Content" section above.

See Greg Anderson's full comments about our investigation at www.CancerRecovery.org.

Find Brian on Facebook at ABC13BrianCollister or on Twitter at @BrianCollister

Take ABC13 with you!
Download our free apps for iPhone, iPad and Android devices

(Copyright ©2014 KTRK-TV/DT. All Rights Reserved.)

Get more 13 Undercover »


Tags:
the woodlands, 13 undercover, brian collister
blog comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement