There are various charities that are fake. Just beware of false charities.
Sometimes, you just get to wonder at the depth of some people’s depravity and greed. In the news yesterday, the Department of Justice has reached a settlement with 2 fake charities that were operating nationwide – one was collecting cash on behalf of charitable organizations and the other was collecting cell phones that were supposed to benefit victims of domestic violence. It turned out, none of the phones reached the victims and the other company was pocketing more than 80% of the funds it collected for the aid groups.
Read the full story at the Statesman Journal.
In cooperation with the US Federal Trade Commission (FTC), 34 states launched last Wednesday Operation False Charity, an initiative to apprehend unscrupulous individuals and entities who defrauded donors and benefactors nationwide by falsely claiming to be working for charitable groups and individuals. Two companies were mentioned in the report – Secure the Call (based in Maryland) and Community Support Inc. (based in Wisconsin). The DOJ has reached a settlement with Secure the Call, the company who was claiming to donate cell phones to victims of domestic violence. 35 states also settled with Community Support Inc., stopping the company from soliciting funds on behalf of police, veterans, and firefighters.
Personally, I don’t believe in taking a long, hard look at my non-profit after I donated to it. I wouldn’t have made the donation, in the first place, if the credibility and integrity of the group is in question.
The underlying lesson for us here is, of course, to do our own due diligence, when it comes to gift-giving or charitable donations. Know who you’re giving it to. My friend, Joe, argues that it’s not his lookout, he’s done his part, and if the charity is dishonest, it’s their own problem. But that’s exactly where the problem lies – if the charitable group is dishonest, then it defeats the very purpose of your donations – since none or a mere trickle will reach the intended recipients.
As a donor, I’d feel much better, and would be inclined to give again, if I know that the money (or the old cell phone, for that matter) that I’m donating is actually being used to help the people the non-profit promised to help. That’s why I’m upset with this news, since it tarnishes the image of charity and philantrophy. There are millions of people who need our help in this country and elsewhere – hungry children, victims of domestic violence, disabled veterans, street children, alcoholics, and many more. News like this makes the work of credible organizations who are helping these people, more difficult.
This is not to say that I’m discouraged from giving, far from it. And, if you’re reading this, I hope you’re not, too. I guess the best course of action would be to donate to organizations with unblemished image and proven track records in making a difference in people’s lives. Great organizations like The Salvation Army, the American Cancer Society, Feed the Children, to name a few, are still out there working tirelessly to help save and rebuild lives and alleviate suffering. They deserve all our help.
If you’re new to this site, by the way, those exemplary organizations I just mentioned are all working with Pacebutler Corporation to raise funds for their respective activities through cell phone donations. If you wish to donate cell phones to any of these organizations, you can do so at their specific donations pages.