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Tis the Season to Watch Out For Charity Scams

November 21, 2011
Irvington High School

By Mahalia Hooker

 Websites, such as www.care2.com and mainstreet.com, accused charity foundations, such as Boys Choir of Harlem, of misusing people’s money raised for the needy. This included money for Haiti, Africa, even America and other unfortunate places.

One of these instances was the fundraiser for Haiti when it was discovered that someone was taking the money that was being donated to charity. In particular, it was said that Wyclef Jean Yele was taking the money. However, according to www.brokencountry.com, Wyclef stated, “I think people should be very comfortable that any money given to Yele Haiti is going 100 percent to emergency relief.”

According to several news reporters, such as CNN, when they interviewed Wyclef, he revealed that the real thief was Wyclef’s correspondent in Haiti who was supposed to handle the money and donate it to the victims in Haiti. Unfortunately, out of the over 1.5 million dollars raised, only part of that money was donated.

Other foundations, such as “Boys Choir of Harlem,” also have been reported to take money. In fact, foundations such as “Boys Choir of Harlem” take the majority of the money, according to www.mainstreet.com, who ranked then as number two out of the top twenty worst charities.
It was shown in 2007 that Boys Choir of Harlem, who is known for taking children off the streets and turning them into singers, started to use 66.3 percent of its money raised for administrative fees.

Administrative fees are defined as expenses made in controlling and directing an organization, but not directly identifiable with financing, marketing, or production operations. In other words, this money could be used to buy a new car for someone’s personal use without anyone knowing. The normal rate for administrative fees are around 4% or less.

Another charity that has large administrative fees is the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, who uses money for the goal of bringing the history and excitement of thoroughbred racing to the widest possible audience. However, their administrative fees suddenly became 55 However, not all charities use money inappropriately. These are just the minority. Charities such as Feed the Children have program expenses over 90 percent and their administrative fees are below 2 percent, which is a benefit to the people in need.

Most top- notch foundations are humanitarian relief foundations.

One may ask, how would you know which charity to donate to? The website “charitynavigator.org” is one way of showing how to find a good and trustworthy charity. CEO and Founder of charitynavigator.org, John P. Dugan Garrison, stated, “In these difficult economic times, you want assurances more than ever. Each of the 5,500 charities on our site are rated for its financial health and accountability/ transparency.”

By doing extra research, you could avoid fraud or fake organization, rip-offs from charities or even being misled.

No matter how much money an organization may take in for certain areas, it is usually shown in their statistics and records.

Also, sometimes the fundraisers are not aware of what goes on after the money is sent to the handler of the money, as in Wyclef‘s case. Other times when they have it written that certain things need to be taken care of, it is the donator’s fault for not paying attention to the tiny text or doing extra research on the charity.

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