Tis the Season of Giving: But Where is Your Money Going To?

During this time of year, the hot cocoa’s brewing. People all across the world seem to get warmer, more compassionate. About 34 percent of all charity giving is contributed within the last three months of the year. Yes, getting jolly for the holly is a good thing. Getting duped, however, is different. Don’t let anyone take advantage of your goodwill.

In May of this year, four cancer charities (Cancer Fund of America, Inc., Concert Support Services, Inc., Children’s Cancer Fund of America, Inc., and The Breast Cancer Society of America, Inc.) were charged for “personal fiefdoms characterized by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation.” According to the case, only 3 percent of the money donated by caring individuals was given to cancer patients.

Kids Wish for America spends less than 30 cents on the dollar granting wishes for dying children. That’s 1 percent. The majority of the donations go to the charity’s operators and companies that they hire for public relations.

Before donating to an organization, write down the specific name and do research.

Charities are registered by most states, and are required to give an annual report on how the donations were allotted. It is definitely good to inquire with your local consumer protection agency.

Even when an organization is legitimate, it may be important to review the non-profit to see exactly where your money will be going. What you care about may never actually see the contribution.

Contact Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance to verify the legitimacy of the organization.

This works for national organizations. National charities should all be filed with them. If you cannot find the organization you’re searching for, the phone number for the Giving Alliance is on the website listed below. It should be a little red flag though.

Remember that being registered isn’t necessarily enough. Several non-profits are facades for bigger fundraising companies. Project Cure, which has raised more than $65 million, was $3 million in debt to its fundraising company as of 2013.

Ask what percentage of your donation will go to charity.

Taking the time to ask about the details may drive off some bad scams. Keep in mind that you should see the percentage number in writing, so you are aware that the representative of the organization didn’t just make that up on the spot.

Acquiring the details about specific organizations should assist you in making the right decision as you donate this holiday. It is always a good idea to do what we can to help those who are less fortunate; but, it’s an equally good idea to know that you’re supporting the third party.

For further reading:

Before Giving to a Charity. Federal Trading Committee, 1 June 2012. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0074-giving-charity&gt;.

Charitable Gifts-in-Kind FAQ. Federal Trading Committee, 1 May 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0528-charitable-gifts-kind-faq&gt;.

“Give Thoughtfully.” Charity Ratings. 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <https://www.charitywatch.org/home&gt;.

Hundley, Khris, and Kendall Tagart. “Part 1: Dirty Secrets of the Worst Charities | The Center for Investigative Reporting.” Part 1: Dirty Secrets of the Worst Charities. The Center for Investigative Reporting, 6 June 2013. Web. 20 Nov. 2015.

Mueller, Eleanor. “Charitable Giving Increases as Holiday Season Ramps up.” USA Today. USA Today, 11 Nov. 2014. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2014/11/11/charitable-giving-holiday-season/18822153/&gt;.

“Which Charity Report Are You Looking For?” BBB Wise Giving Alliance. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <give.org>

Wood, Robert. “Apalling $187 Million Cancer Charity Fraud Case Settles When 97% Of Money Isn’t For Charity.” Forbes. Forbes Magazine, 21 May 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2015. <http://www.forbes.com/sites/robertwood/2015/05/21/appalling-187-million-cancer-charity-fraud-case-settles-when-97-of-money-isnt-for-charity/&gt;.

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