This time of year, most of us will be receiving solicitations to support charities by mail and by phone. It is important to make sure that the charity you donate to is legitimate, and that the money you send is actually used for the purposes you intend it for.
Unfortunately in these tight times even major legitimate charities that do very good work have started to use unethical telemarketers to get access to their mailing lists to raise funds.
Several recent reports (Bloomberg Markets magazine, National Public Radio) have come out regarding such telemarketers, including InfoCision Management Corp., a company that advertises it raises more money for nonprofit organizations over the phone than any other company. However, InfoCision typically retains 50 percent, and even up to 100 percent, of the money solicited. They are currently making calls in the CSRA. Further, their phone solicitors do not reveal the truth about the percentage of the money that will go to the charity.
One tactic they use is to say they are not asking you to donate money, but rather they ask if you would agree to send mailings to your family, friends and neighbors, asking them to donate money. This is a deceptive way to get you to take part in their duplicitous activity.
To determine if a charity is legitimate in the first place you can check on them at such sites as Charity Navigator (charitynavigator.org), the Wise Giving Alliance (bbb.org/us/charity) or the American Institute of Philanthropy (charitywatch.org/azlist.html). If you wish to make sure your donations really go to the charities you want to support, do not give over the phone to telemarketers, even to major trusted charities. Instead, either donate to the charity directly (check how on their websites or call them); to their local branch or during an event such a walk; or via the United Way.
William D. Hill, Ph.D.
(The writer is an associate professor in the Department of Cellular Biology and Anatomy at Georgia Health Sciences University.)