BBB helps consumers fight veteran charity fraud
With more than 86,300 registered charities in Canada*, the decision of which veterans and military-affiliated organization to donate to this Remembrance Day can be a complicated one. To help make the decision easier, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, the national charity monitoring association, has developed a set of 20 Standards for Charity Accountability to ensure credibility and educate consumers about fraudulent charities.
"In the interest of advancing marketplace trust and ensuring those in need receive the donations, we are encouraging charitable organizations to be as transparent as possible and asking consumers to do their due diligence in checking out organizations before making donations," says Mary O'Sullivan-Andersen, president and CEO of BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay.
"Unfortunately there are dishonest and unethical organizations out there masking as true charities, especially as a military-affiliated charity this time of year," she said. "People work hard to make an honest living and we want to help them give to an honest cause."
BBB Wise Giving Alliance and the Canada Revenue Agency offers the following tips on giving to veterans and military-affiliated organizations:
- Check with government charity officials. In Canada, all charities must be registered with the Canada Revenue Agency under the Income Tax Act. Also check BBB's list of Canadian BBB-Accredited charities.
- Get the charity's exact name. With so many charities in existence, mistaken identity is a common problem. Many veterans' charities include virtually the same words in different order or slightly different form, but have no connection with one another.
- Resist pressure to give on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor. Charities should welcome your gift whenever you want to send it.
- Be wary of heart-wrenching appeals. What matters is what the charity is doing to help.
- Press for specifics. Look for a clear description of the organization's programs in its appeals and on its website. If the charity says it is helping veterans, does it explain how (financial assistance, shelter, counselling) and where it is doing so?
- Check websites for basics. A charity's mission, program and finances should be available on its site. If not, check for a report at give.org.
- Don't assume that every soliciting organization is tax exempt as a charity. Check with the CRA to confirm an organization's tax status.
- Beware of donation schemes that promise you returns greater than your donation. The CRA strongly advises that you not participate in donation schemes or illegal tax filings.
- Take action. Write cheques payable to the charity, not an individual, or make sure that your online payments are secure.
- Donating Used Clothing and Other Goods: Find out how the charity benefits from the collection and resale of used clothing and other in-kind gifts. Sometimes the charity receives only a small portion of the resale price of the item or may have a contractual arrangement to get a flat fee for every household pick-up, no matter what the contents.
For more tips you can trust, visit bbb.org.
Leah Brownridge, Media and Corporate Communications Specialist
Better Business Bureau Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay
About BBB WGA:
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance helps donors make informed giving decisions and promotes high standards of conduct among organizations that solicit contributions from the public. It produces reports about national charities, evaluating them against comprehensive Standards for Charity Accountability
, and publishes a magazine, theWise Giving Guide
, three times a year.
BBB WGA does not rank charities but rather seeks to assist donors in making informed judgments about those that solicit their support. Evaluations are done without charge to the charity and are posted for free public access on give.org.
BBB WGA reports on nationally soliciting charities that the public has most often asked about as well as charities that request to be evaluated. Give.org reports on about 1,300 nationally soliciting charities. In addition, about half of the 112 Better Business Bureaus in the United States and Canada cumulatively produce reports on over 10,000 locally soliciting charities using the same BBB Charity Standards as BBB WGA.
For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2016, people turned to BBB more than 167 million times for BBB Business Reviews on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local,independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including BBB Serving Southern Alberta and East Kootenay, which was founded in 1954 and garners more than one million instances of service annually.
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