During the past few years, the Give Hunger the Boot program has helped raise over $350,000 in food and financial donations for the Southeast Gwinnett Food Co-Op. The donations have come from individuals, businesses, schools, and churches and demonstrate the willingness of people to help others. That willingness is the foundation upon which charity organizations are built. But not all charities are as “charitable” as they appear.
Many less than legitimate organizations do extremely well at appealing to most people’s desire to help others in need. We’ve all seen posts on social media and direct mail pieces that paint a heart-wrenching story that your emotions past your logic and motivates you to donate. However, regardless of the story being told, it’s best to research any organization requesting a donation before contributing. Although most charity organizations are legitimate, some deliver only a small percentage of the donations they receive to the people and causes they claim to be helping. Others are outright scams.
A case in point – the American Red Cross of Seattle. How could a Red Cross organization be a scam? As it turns out, very easily. According to Charity Navigator, (www.charitynavigator.org) “On August 7, 2018, the Washington State Office of the Attorney General reported on the operations of American Red Cross of Se-attle, an alleged charity, in the press release, “AG FERGUSON FILES LAWSUIT AGAINST NONPROFIT FOUNDER WITH TIES TO ORGANIZED CRIME.” It has come to our attention that this organization is not registered with the IRS, but is soliciting from the general public in violation of federal tax law. For this reason, we have issued a High Concern CN Advisory.
In the Wise Giving Alliance’s Donor Trust Report, a surprising number of charities did not disclose the information needed for proper evaluation. That’s understandable for new organizations because the necessary paperwork can be cumbersome and time-consuming. However, it’s a red flag for established charities.
The bottom line – think and check before you donate.