Around Acadiana

Dec 3, 2013 3:35 PM by katc

BBB Warns Residents About Children's Charity

Charity and generosity has long been a tradition in Louisiana, especially during the holiday season.

Many in Acadiana reach out to those in need and give what they can to help the less fortunate or those suffering from severe and even terminal health conditions.

But not all charities are the same and some operate almost as money operating schemes that line the pockets of administrators and marketers while doing little for those they claim to assist.

Better Business Bureau of Acadiana alerts Acadiana residents to a charity called "The Children's Wish Foundation International," which operates nationally out of Atlanta area and solicits into the Acadiana area via telephone.

Children's Wish Foundation International plays off the model of the well-respected Make A Wish Foundation, which fulfills the special and often last wishes of sick or terminally ill children, but uses much of the money it raises to pay telemarketers.

Currently, the charity has not responded to requests for information from the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, which oversees charities with 20 charity standards.

Children's Wish Foundation International has come to the attention of BBB after receiving poor marks from two other charity oversight organizations and was the focus of a major news investigation in the Atlanta area revolving around the use of funds raised in the name of sick and dying children.

According to information gathered from The Children's Wish Foundation International tax filings by BBB, about 70 percent of the money they raise, millions of dollars, goes to telemarketers that do the charity's marketing.

BBB charity standards state that non-profits should use no more than 35 percent of their annual revenue for fundraising.

According to their 2011 tax return, Children's Wish Foundation International raised $96.8 million, of which $63.6 million went to telemarketing companies calling nationwide.

According to the Tampa Bay Times and the Center for Investigative Reporting (CIR), the charity was third on their list of "Top 50 Worst Charities in America."

The study focused its ratings on charities that give donations to for-profit solicitors to fundraise. Using these charities' IRS tax filing information, researchers compared the total proceeds raised by solicitation to the total amount of money paid to for-profit solicitors.

BBB offers the following tips to ensure money donated to charities is being used for the right reasons:

* Start with trust. Check out any company or charity at bbb.org to view their BBB Business or Charity Review free of charge. There you will find the company's history of complaints and contact information.
* Get the charity's exact name. With so many charities in existence, mistaken identity is a common problem.Thousands of charities have "cancer" in their name, for example, but no connection with one another.
* Resist pressure to give on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor.
* Be wary of heart-wrenching appeals. What matters is what the charity is doing to help.
* Press for specifics. If the charity says it's helping the homeless, for example, ask how and where it's working.
* Check websites for basics. A charity's mission, program and finances should be available on its site. If not, check for a report at www.give.org.
* Don't assume that every soliciting organization is tax exempt as a charity. You can readily check an organization's tax status at www.irs.gov/app/eos.

 

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