The way these charities operated is offensive to the generosity of donors and insulting to those stricken with cancer. Together, these charities siphoned $187 million out of the philanthropic marketplace. Just think what legitimate cancer charities could have accomplished with that money!
While the government’s actions in pursuing this case of charity fraud are commendable, donors are only slightly more protected today than they were yesterday. That’s because there are more than 1 million charities in America – far too many for our government to effectively police. Given this reality, the most powerful way for donors to protect themselves from fraudulent charities is to make sure they are armed with the data they need to make informed giving decisions.
So, just how does a donor stay protected? First and foremost, hang up the phone when for-profit telemarketers call on behalf of sick kids, veterans and other issues that evoke an altruistic response. Don’t be swayed by their attempts to tug at your heartstrings because if you give in, your donation primarily serves to enrich the telemarketing firm. Shockingly, because there are no laws governing how much of your donation a professional telemarketer can keep, just pennies on the dollar end up in the charity’s hands. Instead, be a proactive donor. Take the time to identify the causes that you are most passionate about supporting, research the charities in that field and once you find a great one, give to it directly.
Most importantly, don’t let this egregious story be a reason not to give. Our research into the financial and governance practices of more than 8,000 charities reveals that the vast majority of them are worthy of support. And with just a little investment of your time, you can be assured that your hard-earned money is going to legitimate charities and not fraudulent impostors.
For more tips, visit our website.
Originally published on May 21, 2015 in the New York Daily News.