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Better Business Bureau ®
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In Louisville, Southern Indiana and Western Kentucky
BBB Warns: Beware of “Sound Alike” Names When Giving to Charities
April 05, 2013

BBB is warning consumers to beware of “sound alike” names when giving to charities. They can confuse potential donors. These “sound alike” names are common among health-related and animal welfare organizations.

An example came to the BBB’s attention recently when a consumer called to inquire about the “National Humane Society.” The consumer saw a car raffle ad in a magazine, promoting a car raffle being conducted by the National Humane Society. The consumer initially thought the car raffle was to benefit the Humane Society of the United States, which is the national organization with state affiliates that most people would undoubtedly think of when they hear the term “Humane Society.” However, the consumer learned that the National Humane Society is a totally different organization.

There are major differences between the Humane Society of the United States (http://www.humanesociety.org/) and the National Humane Society (http://www.humanesocietynational.org/). The BBB has limited information on the National Humane Society. However, it is fair to note that the website of the Humane Society of the United States offers much more detail about the organization’s governance and finances than does the website of the National Humane Society, which seems to focus heavily on car raffles.

The Humane Society of the United States is a BBB Accredited Charity and meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. BBB standards promote disclosure of detailed information about governance and finances, such as that on the website of the Humane Society of the United States. When you give money to or buy chances from an organization like the National Humane Society, which offers very limited information about governance and finances on its website, you may be giving to “a pig in a poke.” The National Humane Society may do worthwhile work promoting animal welfare, but as a careful donor, you should be aware of the problem of “sound alike” names. Don’t let an organization’s name confuse you and make sure that the organization you give your hard-earned money to is the organization that you intend to support.

Go to www.give.org to check out a charity.