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Re: Scam of the day, Kosovo
Chapman, Spira & Carson - Disscusion

From: Better Business Bureau
Date: 4/13/99
Time: 6:08:02 AM
Remote User:


And what better time to try to seperate people from their money when they are trying to by charitable. Try this one on for size.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE For information, contact: Bennett Weiner 703.247.9323


Charitable Requests to Assist those Displaced in the Balkans

Arlington, VA, April 6, 1999 -- In the wake of the ongoing events in Yugoslavia and surrounding areas, many relief organizations are launching campaigns to raise funds to help refugees and their families. The Better Business Bureau warns potential donors against fraudulent appeals by some who may see disasters as an opportunity to take advantage of American generosity and concern. "Given the urgency and overwhelming needs of the refugees," said Bennett M. Weiner, vice president and director of the Philanthropic Advisory Service of the Council of Better Business Bureaus, "this is all the more reason for donors to check out soliciting groups to ensure their generosity is used effectively and wisely."

Established relief organizations will be soliciting for contributions to meet both immediate and long term needs of refugees. Appeals should describe the specific services the charity intends to provide to refugees and their families. If not, individuals should ask for details from these organizations about how they intend to use solicited funds.

In addition, newly organized charities may be soliciting for support. Potential donors should ask about the special need or service being provided that prompted the organization's creation and how they intend to spend their funds and provide assistance. Even newly established organizations should have written material available describing their programs, anticipated expenditures, and how they will carry out activities.

Some groups may be raising funds for distribution to existing relief organizations as opposed to directly providing services. If so, you may want to consider sending a donation directly to the benefiting organization. Also, some charities may change their program focus during a crisis to respond to the changing needs of refugees. Do not assume the charity will carry out the same activities throughout the crisis.

Organizations conduct solicitations for relief in several ways: through the mail, telephone, door-to-door appeals, the Internet, and announcements in magazines, newspapers, radio, and television. Although timing is critical in responding to the needs of the refugees, potential donors should not succumb to pressure in making an immediate donation without first checking out the charities. Fraudulent solicitors often demand on-the-spot contributions and rely on the fact that individuals will not question their efforts.

The Philanthropic Advisory Service (PAS) advises against giving out credit card numbers to a phone solicitor. This can be a ruse to obtain the card number for illegitimate purposes. Ask the caller to send written information on the charity's programs and finances.

Check out relief charities by contacting the Better Business Bureau or your local charity registration office (usually a division of the state attorney general's office). Information on national charities is also available from CBBB's Philanthropic Advisory Service. In addition, PAS also offers the following tips for donors to consider:

Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do to address the refugees in Yugoslavia and the surrounding areas.

If you contribute, do not give cash. Make a check or money order payable to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation.

Watch out for excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be wary of any request to send a "runner" to pick up your contribution.

Do not give out your credit card number or other personal information to a telephone solicitor. Ask the caller to send you written information on the charity's programs and finances.

Do not hesitate to ask for written information that describes the charity's programs and finances. Even newly created organizations should have basic written information available.

Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances, and programs. Ask how much of your gift will be used for the activity mentioned in the appeal and how much will go toward other programs and administrative and fund raising costs.

Find out what the charity intends to do with excess contributions remaining after they have funded their Kosovo activity.

Check with organizations before donating goods. If the charity accepts donated items, have they confirmed there is a need for these materials? Ask about arrangements for shipping and distribution.

Remember, there will be opportunities to give in the future. The problems will not disappear when the headlines do.

Check out charities with your Better Business Bureau and obtain further advice on giving and access PAS reports on specific national charities by visiting the BBB central web site at


CBBB's Philanthropic Advisory Service (PAS) routinely reports on national charities and specifies whether they meet the 23 voluntary CBBB Standards for Charitable Solicitations. Among other things, PAS produces written reports on national charities and a quarterly newsletter, Give But Give Wisely(R)" which summarizes its evaluation results on the most asked about groups.

Last changed: March 17, 2000