BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges public to investigate veterans’ groups before giving

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The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance is warning the public about misleading charities surrounding veterans and the military.

“Americans have a strong interest in supporting charitable organizations helping veterans or active duty service members,” said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, “which is why it is particularly disheartening that we hear about recent government actions that identified misleading appeals from charities that claimed to help our service members. As with any charity appeal, we urge donors to exercise caution and check out organizations before making a giving decision.” 

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips:

Mistaken Identity: Watch out for name confusion. Many veterans’ charities include virtually the same words in different order or slightly different form. 

Check Outside Sources Before Giving: Visit Give.org to check out a charity’s trustworthiness by verifying that it meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. These standards address more than just finances; they also cover charity governance, results reporting, appeal accuracy, and donor privacy. Also, check with your state government’s charity registration agency, usually a division of either the attorney general’s office or secretary of state’s office. 

Avoid On-the-Spot Donation Decisions: Be wary of excessive pressure in fundraising. Don’t be pressured to make an immediate on-the-spot donation. 

Find Out What They Do: Don’t assume what the veterans organization does based on their name alone. Review the appeal carefully and see if it matches program and financial information appearing on the organization’s website. 

Recognize Telemarketing Cautions: Telemarketing can be a costly method of fundraising unless carefully managed. If interested in a call on behalf of a veterans’ charity, always check out the organization online before donating. 

Be Wary of Unusual Donation Transaction Options:  Watch out if a charity solicitor asks for donors to send contributions using an unusual transaction method such as wire transfer, gift cards, or pre-paid debit cards. This could be a ruse to enable questionable solicitors to get funds quickly.

Learn How Donated Items Will Be Used. If a veterans’ charity is soliciting for used clothing, cars, furniture and other in-kind gifts, find out how they benefit. Sometimes the charity receives only a small portion of the resale price of the item or may have a contractual arrangement to get a flat fee for every household pick-up, no matter what the contents.

Seek Out Financial Information. Verify the accuracy of financial information in veterans’ organizations appeals. Check out the charity’s report on BBB’s Give.org or review the charity’s website for its latest financial information. The BBB Standards for Charity Accountability call for a charity to spend at least 65% of its total expenses on program service activities, as opposed to fundraising and administrative costs.  

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance said the following following charities did not disclose any requested information:

  • Foundation for American Veterans
  • Healing American Heroes (aka Help Our Wounded)
  • Healing Heroes Network
  • Help the Vets (aka American Disabled Veterans Foundation, Military Families of America, Veterans Fighting Breast Cancer)
  • National Vietnam Veterans Foundation
  • VietNow

This is a list of 26 nationally soliciting veterans and military service charities that meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability:

  • America’s Vet Dogs – The Veteran’s K-9 Corps
  • Blinded Veterans Association
  • Boot Campaign
  • Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation
  • Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes
  • Disabled American Veterans
  • EOD Warrior Foundation
  • Gary Sinise Foundation
  • Green Beret Foundation
  • Homes for Our Troops
  • Honor Flight Network
  • K9s for Warriors
  • Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
  • Military Spouse Corporate Career Network
  • Operation Healing Forces
  • Operation Homefront
  • Soldier’s Angels
  • Team Red, White & Blue
  • Travis Manion Foundation
  • USA Cares
  • USO
  • Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children
  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
  • VFW Foundation
  • Wounded Warrior Project
  • Wounded Warriors Family Support

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(This story was originally published July 19, 2018)

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