The season of giving: to whom? How to avoid fraud

The season of giving: to whom? How to avoid fraud

By Corie Richter, KSL.com Contributor | Posted - Nov. 14, 2012 at 8:31 p.m.



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SALT LAKE CITY — Anne is 90-years-old.The other day she showed her daughter some “gift” from a charity soliciting a donation for disabled veterans. She stopped writing a check after verifying the organization gives less than 15 percent to disabled veterans.

Fraud is not new, though the methods are innovative at times.

For example, take Roger Chapin. Following a report by Charity Watch , Congress did its own investigation and determined that between 2004-06 Chapin was behind two veteran charities — Help Hospitalized Veterans and Coalition to Salute America's Heroes. The fundraising yielded $168 million, but veterans saw about 25 percent of it.

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Chapin and his wife received salaries of $1.5 million, spent $446,000 on a condo, and $340,000 on restaurants and other expenses. Chapin is just one of many.

Charity Watch has an entire page devoted to scoundrels.

With the limited funds available for charitable donations, it is important worthy organizations are supported. There are many organizations claiming to support the poor, hungry, disabled, etc. Yes, they donate to those causes, but those scam organizations keep a considerable share of the receipts for their payroll, commissions, and other expenses, with little of it going to the people you are intending it for.

Meanwhile, truly charitable causes who keep paid staff and salaries to a minimum rely heavily on volunteers, and they are hurting for funds because of the professional fundraisers.

Perhaps one should also examine whether or not much needed funding should go to what may be perceived as excessive executive costs. Why should some executives make salaries and perks well in excess of $400,000. Do you know the salaries of the most effective charities’ leaders? You can find out by checking out organizations such as Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau, or the IRS. You will be surprised at how inefficient some of the most well-known charities are at handling your money.

Beware of solicitations from places whose names sound very much like a true charity but they are not. Just because it says cancer, veterans, disabled, etc. does not mean they are legitimate. Verify the exact name of the charity with an organization such as Charity Navigator and Charity Watch. These organizations provide information for charitable foundations seeking to donate to worthy causes, high net individuals, and anyone who wants to make sure their donation is being used judiciously. They can tell you how much of the money raised goes to the stated cause, and other valuable information.

Indeed, some feel they are morally obligated to give what they can, but give wisely and not because the solicitation is well-packaged or the fundraiser is charismatic.

Responding to telephone solicitations from a stranger can be dangerous. People shouldn't give their credit card information to a caller you do not know, even if they claim they are from an organization you have donated to in the past.

Finally, keep an eye on the elderly, counsel them to check with you or someone else who can be trusted to assure their donations go to the intended recipients.

Corie Richter is a resident of upstate New York. She is a published author, healthcare and educational writer who enjoys ancient history, is involved with Scouting and community volunteer work.

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Corie Richter

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