Grant Stinchfield, NBCDFW.com
California-based The Keep A Breast Foundation has sold more then 2 million "I Love Boobies" bracelets this year. The bands retail for 3.95 each. The question is, where is all that money going?
When it comes to charity wrist bands, there is no hotter item than The Keep A Breast Foundation's, "I Love Boobies" bracelet.
The organization said it has sold more than 2 million this year. The bands retail for $3.95 each. The question is, where is all that money going?
The mission of California-based The Keep a Breast Foundation is to promote breast cancer awareness, education and prevention. Shaney Jo Darden, the organizations founder, says the organizations focus does not include funding research projects.
"We want to spread the word to young people across the globe about breast cancer and how to prevent, we are focused on the youth," said Darden.
Many parents and kids wearing the bracelets are confused about the mission. Anita House bought an "I Love Boobies" bracelet for her 12-year-old son.
"The store clerk told me all the money goes to cancer research," said House.
It turns out the story clerk was mistaken. NBCDFW obtained the organization's latest IRS Form 990 filing. Even though the filing is from 2008, it gives some insight into how the organization spends its donations. Of the $495,969 The Keep A Breast Foundation raised in 2008, only $6,723 went to breast cancer awards and grants.
"It's kind of irritating that you wonder where the money goes. You assume it's going one place and now you don't know where it's going," said House.
Darden insists the money goes to pay for its educational outreach programs. Still the Form 990 shows, in 2008, $56,107 was spent on T-shirts, $86,873 for salaries, $53,024 in travel and tour expenses and another $42,455 in office expenses.
The money left over apparently went into savings.
This year, the charity is making millions off the bracelets. The "I Love Bobbies" popularity could net The Keep a Breast Foundation more then $5 million.
Darden confirmed just more than $100,000 has been given in program grants and awards this year.
"We are still trying to figure out what we are going to do with all the money," said Darden.
She said she plans on opening a community center in Los Angeles besides expanding their youth outreach programs.
The executive director of Executives in Action, a nonprofit that places high-level, out-of-work executives with other nonprofits to help improve their bottom line, reviewed The Keep a Breast Foundation's Form 990.
"On the surface, that raises some eyebrows, but when you dig into it, it seems the purpose of this is to be an advocacy organization," said Gregg.
He says when the mission is simply to educate, measuring success can be difficult, but it can be done.
"More and more donors are looking at what are the outcomes, what are the metrics," said Gregg.
He said he thinks The Keep a Breast Foundation could do a better job at spelling out exactly what they are doing with donor dollars,
"I think they need to justify what they do for every dollar raised," said Gregg.
Still Darden said her organization's "I Love Boobies" campaign will allow her to reach more young people across the globe. It may not be the mission Anita House and her son Noah envisioned, but no one can argue, The "I Love Boobies" campaign is making headlines.
"It's obviously working, because people are talking about them," said House.