Bowen's charity pays his own for-profit production company about $200,000 a year to make the videos. Then the charity pays to air Rick Bowen Deep-Sea Diving on a local Knoxville station. The program makes no mention of Youth Development Fund.
In its IRS tax filings, the charity reports that its programming reaches "an estimated audience of 1.3 million."
But, according to the station manager, the show attracts about 3,600 viewers a week.
Bowen, who runs the charity out of his Knoxville condo, declined to be interviewed. He defended the practice of hiring his own company with the public's donations.
"We just happened to be the low bidder," he said.
Good vs. bad charities
America's worst charities look nothing like Habitat for Humanity, Boys and Girls Clubs or thousands of other charities, large and small, that are dedicated to helping the sick and needy.
Well-run charities rely on their own staff to raise money from a variety of sources. They spend most of their donations on easy-to-verify activities, whether it's running soup kitchens, supporting cancer research, raising awareness about drunken driving or building homes for veterans.
The Times/CIR list of worst charities, meanwhile, is littered with organizations that exhibit red flags for fraud, waste and mismanagement.
Thirty-nine have been disciplined by state regulators, some as many as seven times.
Eight of the charities have been banned in at least one state.
One was shut down by regulators but reopened under a new name.
A third of the charities' founders and executives have put relatives on the payroll or the board of directors.
For eight years, American Breast Cancer Foundation paid Joseph Wolf's telemarketing company to generate donations.
His mother, Phyllis Wolf, had founded the Baltimore-based charity and was its president until she was forced to resign in 2010.
While she ran the charity, her son's company, Non Profit Promotions, collected $18 million in telemarketing fees.
Phyllis Wolf left the charity after the payments to her son attracted media attention in 2010. The charity has since stopped using telemarketers, including Joseph Wolf's.
Phyllis and Joseph Wolf did not respond to several calls seeking comment.
The nation's worst charities are large and small. Some are one-person outfits operating from run-down apartments. Others claim hundreds of employees and a half-dozen locations around the country. One lists a UPS mail box as its headquarters address.
Several play off the names of well-known organizations, confusing donors.