There are some wonderful charities out there, without whom many people would have little, if anything to celebrate this holiday season. So far, it seems you can’t go wrong with toys/food/clothing drives, donating goods or your valuable time to causes like the CHUM Christmas Wish, or the Daily Bread Food Bank. Sadly, there are Grinches out there trying to take advantage of your charitable nature, and it’s important to ensure you donations are going to the right place. Many fraud artists know how to avoid getting caught, asking for smaller donations, or asking that people purchase a ticket to something, claiming a portion of the proceeds will go towards a particular cause are common tactics.
If someone asks you for money, ask for details about their organization, for their charitable organization number, the name of the founder/CEO, business address, and where you can find more information online. Hopefully this will weed out some of the fakes. Do your research- Google is a good thing, so use it and ask around.
The Danforth Music Fest/Beaches Blues Festival (not to be confused with the Waterfront Music Festival!!) is an example of a “charitable organization” to watch out for. The proof that the organization no longer qualifies to distribute tax receipts is a matter of public record, yet it is business as usual for Mr. Leroy St Germaine and his minions selling tickets with the promise of “a portion of the proceeds going to charity.” That portion is LESS than 1%. There is nothing illegal about selling tickets for a music event and collecting donations with nothing more than a PRETENSE of charitable fundraising, although it is most defininitely reprehensible and behavior void of morals.
Banks get to know customers, and aren’t as cautious about checking the annual validity of supposed charities before cashing their cheques… maybe the banks should be required to review which charities are still eligible to accept donations annually in order to prevent fraud. If the cheques aren’t being watched by the banks, where is the money going? If the charity is no longer registered, maybe nobody is asking for a statement- that’s scary.
This is not to say that all charities are bad, or that anyone should be jaded by the bad guys, but please make sure your hard earned money goes to those who really need it!