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Council of Better Business Bureaus ®
Start With Trust®
Council of Better Business Bureaus
Businesses Should Exercise Judgement When Supporting Community Fundraising Appeals
July 02, 2010

As a business owner, may want to support the law enforcement, public safety or educational groups in your community by purchasing advertising in publications sponsored by nonprofit organizations. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) recommends that when responding to fundraising appeals you exercise the same good judgment you would use in business making decisions.

Many community businesses are targeted by con artists who pose as salesmen from out-of-town advertising firms, wanting to sell your company ads in local calendars, yearbooks or souvenir programs to be given out at circuses or dance shows. A variation of this advertising scam involves deceptive invoices for ads that the businesses never agreed to purchase.

The BBB suggests you understand the conditions of any specialty advertising and ask lots of questions before buying ad space for a charity or nonprofit fundraiser. Find out:

  • What is the salesperson's affiliation with the organization?
  • Does the salesperson have any information about the organization and the programs the ad space will support?
  • Can you make the check out directly to the name of the organization? If not, that is a red flag. Call the BBB for a report on the fundraising company or charity, before you write the check.
  • How many copies of the publication will be printed?
  • How often will it be published? Is there a charge for the publication?
  • Where and when will the publication be distributed?
  • Is the full name of the charity or nonprofit organization indicated in the advertisement? Is an address or telephone number provided for those interested in additional information about the charity or the promotional partnership?
  • What are your plans for donating to charities this year? How does this opportunity fit into your plans? Are there other charities that you would prefer to support?

If a salesperson refuses to answer any of your questions, does not have supporting materials about the charitable organization, or urges you to act immediately, you may be dealing with a con artist rather than a legitimate non-profit.