As the 2013 holiday season is revving up, many people are looking to donate to charitable causes. We love people with good intentions in their hearts but take to Ronald Reagan’s adage of “trust but verify”. CNBC cautions: “But the very impulses that make us want to give can make us less cautious about whom or what we give to—and scam artists are all too aware of this.” How can you tell the bad apples from the bunch?
Veterans, natural disaster victims, and shelters are just some of the causes that charity scams will associate themselves with to tug at the heartstrings. Let’s look at a couple of real-life scenarios. Following investigative reporting by CNN and the Tampa Bay Times, the Kids Wish Foundation was named the worst charity in America with their aim to “grant wishes to children with life-threatening illnesses”. What’s wrong with the picture? Its’ corporate solicitors have received nearly $110 million in the past decade when it should have been donated to sick children instead. In a more recent happening, a man was served a $6 million fine and 28 years in prison for scamming $100 million through his United States Navy Veterans Association. His headquarters proved to be a rented postal box instead of an office building in Washington D.C. More worse case charities can be found here: America’s 50 Worst Charities
Of course, we don’t want to end this post on a sour note. Forbes gives a great list of charity rating groups along with tips such as finding out if your employer will match your donations. Additionally, stick with charitable foundations you know best that have a proven track record and a great reputation. Don’t stop the power of giving but research foundations you’ve never heard of that approach you. Worst case scenario, donating time at your local charities or dropping a few bills in the Salvation Army bucket are nice alternatives.
Now if only Girl Scout Cookies were on sale now, I’d gladly buy 10 boxes of Thin Mints. Happy holidays!