Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Cancer Charities Bilked more than $187 Million from Donors

Today, in an unprecedented collaboration, the FTC and 58 law enforcement agencies put a web of sham cancer charities out of business. The investigation revealed that the four charities involved - Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children's Cancer Fund of America and the Breast Cancer Society - primarily benefited one family, that of Cancer Fund founder James T. Reynolds Sr., rather than the cancer patients the organizations' purported to help. In total, these groups made off with $187 million in donations.

What can you do as a donor to ensure your charitable dollars aren't invested in fraudulent groups?

  1. Hang up the phone! Reynolds Sr. and his family were able to raise so much money in part by working with for-profit telemarketing firms. Those companies siphon off most of what you donate and only pass along small percentage of your gift to the charity.
  2. Be proactive. Don't wait for a charity to ask you for support. Instead flip the table and identify which causes you are most passionate about.
  3. Do your homework. Take the time to research the charity's finances, governance practices and results. You'll find much of this analysis, for free, at Charity Navigator.
  4. Make a long-term commitment. Once you've done your research, give generously and over the long haul. A great way to do that is by setting up a monthly donation to your favorite charity. 

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