Stories like this make me so angry: Cancer Charities Called $187 Million “Sham”
A group of family members whose charities claimed to be raising millions of dollars for cancer victims bilked donors to the tune of $187 million over five years, spending some of that money on fancy cars and trips for themselves and their friends, according to a civil suit.
The alleged fraud, which would be one of the largest-ever involving a charity, was detailed in a complaint filed by the Federal Trade Commission, all 50 states and the District of Columbia. It describes four connected groups, all with cancer in their name, as “sham charities,” saying they instead “operated as personal fiefdoms characterized by rampant nepotism, flagrant conflicts of interest, and excessive insider compensation.”
The specific charities are the Cancer Fund of America, the Breast Cancer Society, the Children’s Cancer Fund of America and Cancer Support Services.
If you have donated money to any of these groups, don’t expect to get it back. Despite the lawsuit, the money is gone. It’s been spent.
It’s just outrageous to me when a serious and emotional health condition, like cancer (especially children’s cancer), is used to scam people. But of course it’s because cancer provokes such an emotional response in us that these scammers are successful.
To protect yourself, make the decision to give money to charities with your head, not your heart.
There are several websites to help you determine how honest a charity is. Before you give, know how much of your donation goes directly to the cause, rather than salaries, travel expenses, bonuses, or outright fraudulent uses.
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Charities (groups that receive specific tax exemptions) need to register with the IRS and submit financial disclosures. You can access this information to help inform your decision to donate. A worthwhile charity will spend at least 80-85% (preferably more) directly on its advertised programs/services.
Check out these websites:
From this site you can grab the charity’s EIN or Employer Identification Number and use it with the other search sites.
I like Charity Navigator because it gives each charity a simply “star” rating; one to five stars. It already has a “donor advisory” up about the pending lawsuit against the Cancer Fund of America and the Children’s Cancer Fund.
You can read and write reviews on individual charities here, which is nice, but you need to subscribe to “premium” to get all the information you want.
Also, go to your state’s government website and see if they have a similar search tool to help you find more information on a charity or fundraising event operating in your state.