Reporters from The Center for Investigative Reporting and the Tampa Bay Times received the top prize in the Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism Monday night during a ceremony in Phoenix.

CIR reporter Kendall Taggart and Tampa Bay Times reporter Kris Hundley received the prestigious gold award for their series America’s Worst Charities. The initial series took a year to report and produce. The reporters have continued to press ahead with additional stories, the most recent of which was published this past week.

The series examined thousands of charities that hire professional solicitors and identified the 50 worst based on how much they had paid these outside fundraisers over a decade – in some cases more than 95 cents of every dollar raised.

The awards are administered by the Donald W. Reynolds National Center for Business Journalism at Arizona State University’s Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication.

CIR and The Times created two unique databases for the project. One database ranked the worst charities. The other compiled thousands of enforcement actions taken against charities across the country. Until the enforcement database was compiled, state regulators had no way of tracking bad actors that move from state to state.  

CIR and The Times also partnered with CNN for part of the project. The series has prompted results, including arrests at a Florida boiler room and calls for investigations by members of Congress.

The award is named after the legendary investigative reporting duo of James Steele and Donald Barlett, who together have collaborated for more than 40 years and have won two Pulitzer Prizes and six George Polk Awards. 

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