Troubled Nonprofit Closes “Brides Against Breast Cancer” Social Enterprise

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Image Credit: above The Rest Events

August 11, 2015; Sarasota Herald-Tribune

This nonprofit went all in, embracing the idea that a “business orientation” would save it, complete with social enterprise. But five bad years later, the character of the key players and their willingness to put the good of the whole first turned out to be of utmost importance.

It would take too long to rehash the whole sordid Center for Building Hope (CBH) saga of the last few years before discussing their latest development, which is that it has finally closed its social enterprise, Brides Against Breast Cancer (BABC). The long and short of it was that the board was sold and bought a handful of magic beans by their CEO Carl Ritter, an expert salesman who eventually had CBH hire multiple family members and set up a credit card processing business under his ownership that charged dearly for processing BABC’s sales.

BABC, under the name “Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation,” was already failing and had a bad enough reputation to have been named one of the 20 worst nonprofits in Oregon when it was bought by the then-brand-new CEO of CBH, a center established to provide services to support those suffering from cancer and their families. The enterprise was deemed so bad a deal by the organization’s national network, the Cancer Support Community, that CBH had to disaffiliate from the network to take it on.

Charlie Ann Syprett, a donor and former board member, says she hopes the center will consider returning to the Cancer Support Community now that they have liquidated the business effort. “There was quality oversight and evidence-based programs that originated from the organization’s research institute,” Syprett said. “We were part of a national organization that had respect.”

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CBH’s 990s show a surplus of $1 million for each of the three years preceding Ritter’s hire in September 2010, but then revenues went south, with the deficit spiking after the 2012 purchase of BABC. Meanwhile, Ritter’s salary soared. This confluence closely mimicked the pattern at CarBiz, where he was previously employed, as can be seen below in a graph published in the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

Car-dealership-graph

It may be completely coincidental, but a social enterprise was also suggested as a complicit factor in the very showy demise of FEGS in New York.—Ruth McCambridge

Correction: This article has been altered from its original form. The Making Memories Breast Cancer Foundation was found on the list of the 20 worst nonprofits in Oregon, not Colorado.