Tips on Protecting You from Fake Charities and Scams
Member of Cook Children's Health Foundation gives helpful advice on philanthropy
Acts of philanthropy are what keep our society going. It is because of volunteerism, in-kind gifts and financial support that the hungry are fed, the sick are cared for and various other needs of the community are met. At Cook Children’s, generosity heals.
And at no time, do most of us feel more generous than during the holidays.
Sometimes, though, the people on the receiving end of your generosity don’t have the same great intentions as you.
We hear of these reports from time to time in our own community: Someone is going to door-to-door in a neighborhood selling something to support Cook Children’s. The Internet is full of scams in the name of giving that most of us would never dream of committing.
We want to make sure you aren’t scammed, especially in the name of Cook Children’s. :
- We won’t coming knocking. Cook Children’s never solicits donor support door-to-door. Cook Children’s also never sanctions door-to-door solicitations on our behalf.
- We validate. Annually, Cook Children’s has more than 70 community partners who hold special event fundraisers that benefit Cook Children’s. Each of these partners events have been approved by Cook Children’s Health Foundation and have been provided a letter of authorization to validate the authenticity of the event and its organizers.
- We give our stamp of approval. The request for a proposed fundraising activity that will benefit Cook Children’s must be submitted for approval, including the use of Cook Children’s name and/or logo prior to the event. Cook Children’s endorses wholesome, family or child-oriented events that provide a favorable community image. “Proceeds benefiting Cook Children’s” may be used in promotional materials, invitations or advertising copy, if approved in advance by Cook Children’s Health Foundation.
In order to keep yourself from falling victim to a charity scam, take the time to check out the charity.
1. Visit their website and look for the following things:
- Correct spelling and use of grammar.
- Mission statement.
- List of board members.
- Permanent street address (not a PO Box) and a phone number.
- Statements of financial transparency.
2. Seek proof
- Ask the charity to mail you information on the program they are asking you to support and how the funds will be used.
- Request a copy of their tax information.
- Check the company’s status with the Better Business Bureau.
3. Ask if you can write a check
Donations of cash are not trackable and any legitimate non-profit organization would be willing and able to accept a check.
4. Use common sense
Don’t provide financial information to anyone over the phone.
If you receive a request by email, look at the email. Beware of emails coming from addresses such as Hotmail or yahoo, and not .org. Don’t make a donation through an email that you don’t know or can’t verify. For example, Cook Children’s would send an email such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Don’t give in to forceful or demanding requests for your immediate support.
Use caution on social media sites and websites that you are unfamiliar with.
Some organizations, like Cook Children’s, have groups within the community who raise money for the cause. These events are not run by Cook Children’s, but must be approved by Cook Children’s Health Foundation. If you have a question about the validity of a group or individual who is soliciting funds on behalf of Cook Children’s, contact our Community Partners specialist at 682-885-4105.
Don’t let the possibility of charity scam keep you from supporting the causes that you believe in, but do let it raise your awareness and guide you in your decision making. Do your research, identify your top charities of choice and reach out to them. Real charities have nothing to hide.
If you suspect that you are being solicited by or have fallen victim to a charity scam, document the details and contact your credit card company or bank to report the incident.
Cook Children’s is a 501(c)(3). IRS tax number 75-2051646.