How To Run a Background Check on That Charity

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It’s a sad story that’s nothing new: Four phony cancer charities allegedly stole around $200 million while pretending to be organizations devoted to helping in the fight.

Cancer Fund of America, The Breast Cancer Society, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services — all run by extended members of the same family — are accused by the Federal Trade Commission of spending only 3 cents out of every dollar on their stated missions.

The other 97 cents out of every dollar they took in allegedly went to ‘pay fundraisers and personal purchases including luxury cruises, jet skis, lingerie, and even family college tuition,’ according to the FTC.

Because of this sad phenomenon, I want to tell you how to make sure the dollars you’re giving are going to right places and being used efficiently.

How to vet charities

Some cultures have no idea of volunteerism or charitable giving. We are blessed in the United States with the belief that we can make a difference with our volunteer labor and hard-earned dollars. I never want you to be discouraged giving to something you believe in because you got burned by a phony.

In the charity sector, any time there is a disaster like the recent Nepal earthquake, the phonies pop up and steal your money by playing on your emotions. There are also the ‘sounds like, looks like’ charities that have similar names to well-known charities and try to steal your money by trading on that confusion.

Then there is tough gray area: A legitimate charity that is run poorly and the money you put in is not handled efficiently. Their mismanagement of funds, while not intentional, is like sand in the gears that turn dollars into pennies.

Anytime you’re called on the phone and asked to make a donation to a charity you’re not familiar with, ask for them to send literature on the organization. Nine times out of 10, the next sound you’ll hear is Mr. Buzz as they hang up and go on to the next person to try to steal money. By contrast, a legit charity will be happy to send you all the info you want because they’re trying to create a long-term donor.

We hear about running background checks all the time on people. But did you know there’s kind of a way to do it on a charity?

The best way to vet charities online and figure out if they’re handing their money efficient is to go,, or

Those sites will give you a peek behind the curtain so you can make sure your money is being spent wisely!

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