You may have heard that earlier this week the Federal Trade Commission filed a lawsuit against four cancer groups for defrauding donors. The four organizations collected $187 million between 2008 and 2012. Founder James Reynolds, Sr. and his friends and family members operated all the “sham” organizations. Less than 2 cents of every dollar donated went to aid for cancer patients.
Let’s be clear: this is not ALL cancer charities. Many organizations are working hard to find a cure for cancer, provide services to patients and families and fund research. With the government contributing less to fund medical research and provide services to patients, cancer charities are more important than ever.
How do you know if your donation supports the cause that is important to you? Donors have to do some due diligence before making a gift. Several groups, including Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator and Charity Watch evaluate millions of charities on a regular basis and are easily searchable online.
If you get a late-night phone call or see a fund box in the supermarket, ask basic questions: How long has the charity been in business? How much goes toward programs, staff, and board members? The more questions you ask, at some point, either they will get tired of answering or they will give enough information to make you comfortable.
You should also check the 990 of organizations you support (we list ours here) and understand how they are spending your money.
To see what the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Review Council or Guidestar says about the MPN Research Foundation, go our our accrediations page.
Give from the heart, but give smart.