CBS 11 I-Team Explores Where The Money You Donate To Charities Goes – CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – Giving Tuesday is all about gratitude, but CBS 11 Team I are sharing examples of why you should give not only with your heart, but also with your head.

In recent years, according to a file filed by the Federal Trade Commission, a charity called Help the Vets has told donors “Your $ 10 gift will mean so much to a disabled veteran …”; However, according to the FTC’s complaint, “95% (of donations)… were spent on fundraising, administrative expenses and salaries. “

A law firm representing Help the Vets declined to comment on the charges.

In another case, the FTC says Cancer Fund of America, Incorporated “took millions … but spent them on themselves and their fundraisers.”

An attorney who represented the Cancer Fund of America told the I-Team: “The CFA has denied the allegation made by the FTC in the lawsuit.”

And, this year alone, Associated Community Services has become one of many companies permanently banned from fundraising.

An FTC complaint says the defendants knew the charities they promoted kept “up to 90 cents on every dollar requested.”

An attorney representing Associated Community Services sent a statement to the I-Team: “ACS denies the allegations that have been made against it, and it has not admitted any wrongdoing in the settlement of this matter involving actions of it. many years ago. ACS simply did not have the resources to defend against the government here.

In press releases, the Federal Trade Commission says, “Giving Tuesday is a great time to show your gratitude by donating to help others. But you don’t want to give money to a bogus charity or a scammer (any day of the week).

“Whether you are donating a car or a boat, or donating money, or even just canned goods, you need to be very careful that the organizations you donate to are legitimate businesses and that there are ways to check these things out, ”the lawyer said. Jim Elliott, Deputy Regional Director, Federal Trade Commission, Southwest Regional.

The FTC has just released an alert titled “How To Donate Safely This Tuesday I Give.”

Federal agents say you have to slow down. Don’t be forced to donate, especially over the phone.

Know who is making the request. Watch out for scammers using names similar to those of well-known charities.

And above all, find the cause.

The FTC recommends going to Charity Watch.

The monitoring website evaluates charities.

It was founded in 1992 when there was no place to search for them. “… Now we have the opposite problem,” says Executive Director Laurie Styron, Executive Director.

“Now there is almost too much information about charities and unfortunately much of it comes from industry and trade associations or the charities themselves.”

Styron says don’t be afraid to ask questions:

-Who are you?

–What part of my donation will be used for the program I want to support?

The Charity Watch website contains financial statements for hundreds of charities. You can find the percentage that an organization reports spending on administrative and overhead costs.

“So generally speaking, very effective nonprofits are able to spend 75% of their budget on programs and reduce their overhead to at least 25% or less,” says Styron.

Charity Navigator’s relationship manager Kevin Scally agrees.

“We generally recommend that people research 70% or more that actually goes to programs and the rest goes to fundraising and overhead,” Scally explains.

The FTC also recommends that you research the Charity Navigator.

It uses metrics to apply point values ​​for an overall charity assessment.

“You can look at their financial score and… feel good about donating if it’s a passing score for us,” says Scally.

Charity Navigator also warns you about organizations that have confirmed or reported misconduct.

“One of them would be Central Coast Kids… focused on helping children with special needs,” says Scally. “The founder and director was actually sent to prison for 40 years for tax evasion, embezzlement, presenting false invoices. “

Before donating, you should also check with the Better Business Bureau.

And…

– Type the name of the charity as well as the words “scam”, “warning” or “fraud” on a search engine.

Also remember …

– Always pay by credit card or check, not cash.

– Track and review your records to ensure charges are correct.

–And finally, be aware of the tricks of the crooks. Monitor your caller ID. Scammers can change the phone number to appear locally. Or, they can act like you’ve already donated to them.

– If you are donating to a charity based in another state, go to the state’s online charities audit site. This is usually regulated by the attorney general’s office or the secretary of state. You should find public returns and income tax returns there.

But know that in Texas we don’t have that. Most charities based here are not required to register with the state.

It’s the season to avoid scams!

“These organizations exist,” says Elliott. “They want to get this money out of your pocket. They will say anything to achieve it.

To file a report or complaint about a charity, Click here.


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