Today, the Federal Trade Commission announced a joint complaint with all 50 states and the District of Columbia against four nonprofits that were reportedly operating as anything but legitimate charities.
The four organizations named in the federal court complaint are Cancer Fund of America, Inc. (CFA), Cancer Support Services Inc. (CSS), their president, James Reynolds, Sr., and their chief financial officer and CSS’s former president, Kyle Effler; Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc. (CCFOA) and its president and executive director, Rose Perkins; and The Breast Cancer Society Inc. (BCS) and its executive director and former president, James Reynolds II.
It is tempting today interpret this news as suggesting that
you shouldn’t give to nonprofits because there is no way to tell the good ones
from the bad. That is simply false! Not only can you tell, it isn’t that hard
Here are a few quick tips:
Give to organizations you know. There are
countless well known charitable organizations that have been vetted every which
way to Sunday, that have great reputations, including Doctors Without Borders,
American Red Cross, The Nature Conservancy and many others. Giving to
organizations you recognize and can trust is a safe way to continue giving.
Go to work. Most organizations that are
legitimate need volunteers; be one. When you give your time to an organization
you get to know more about them than you could ever learn online. If you don’t
want to volunteer for an organization, you probably shouldn’t be giving them
your money anyway. If you think you’re ready to give, you should be willing to
donate a few hours first. This is a great way to not only do your due diligence,
but also to double the impact of your money.
Check Charity Navigator. There are a number of
online resources for vetting nonprofits. None of them is perfect, but if you
are asked to give to an organization that you haven’t heard of before, visit
charitynavigator.org and search for their name. For many organizations, you can
quickly see the Charity Navigator star rating (on a scale up to five) and key
metrics like the percent of funding spent on programs versus administration and
Whatever you do, don’t stop giving. Resolve to give more and
give smarter instead.