July 19, 2018

Veterans’ Charities That Mislead: BBB Wise Giving Alliance Joins Federal and State Regulators in Announcing Enforcement Actions

BBB Wise Giving Alliance Urges Donors to Check Out Groups Before Giving; Offers Tips, List of Accredited Veterans’ Charities

Washington DC (July 19, 2018) – BBB Wise Giving Alliance (Give.org), the charity monitoring organization affiliated with the Better Business Bureau, joined today with the Federal Trade Commission, state Attorneys General and state charity regulators to help the donating public avoid misleading  charity appeals and find trustworthy veterans’ organizations to support. The event was held at the FTC’s headquarters in Washington, DC to announce the latest enforcement actions against  veterans’ charities. 

“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.” 

As potential donors respond to appeals from such organizations, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advisory 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.  

For more tips on giving to charities including mailing list removal, car donations, and sweepstakes appeals, visit our giving guidance and tips page

The following provides links to BBB Wise Giving Alliance reports on the six veterans charities referenced in today’s FTC’s press conference. These charities did not disclose any of the requested information to BBB WGA. 

To view BBB WGA President and CEO Art Taylor's interviews with a representative of the FTC and three state law enforcement officials, visit our YouTube Channel.

Below is a list of 26 nationally soliciting veterans and military service charities that meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability (i.e., BBB Accredited Charities): 

  1. America’s Vet Dogs – The Veteran’s K-9 Corps
  2. Blinded Veterans Association
  3. Boot Campaign
  4. Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation
  5. Coalition to Salute America’s Heroes
  6. Disabled American Veterans
  7. EOD Warrior Foundation
  8. Gary Sinise Foundation
  9. Green Beret Foundation
  10. Homes for Our Troops
  11. Honor Flight Network
  12. K9s for Warriors
  13. Marine Corps Scholarship Foundation
  14. Military Spouse Corporate Career Network
  15. Operation Healing Forces
  16. Operation Homefront
  17. Soldiers' Angels
  18. Team Red, White & Blue
  19. Travis Manion Foundation
  20. USA Cares
  21. USO
  22. Veterans of Foreign Wars National Home for Children
  23. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
  24. VFW Foundation
  25. Wounded Warrior Project
  26. Wounded Warriors Family Support

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ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2017, people turned to BBB more than 160 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.2 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. The Council of Better Business Bureaus is the umbrella organization for the local, independent BBBs in the United States, Canada and Mexico, as well as home to its national and international programs on dispute resolution, advertising review, and industry self-regulation. 

About BBB Wise Giving Alliance: BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, results reporting, finances, fundraising, appeal accuracy and other issues. The BBB WGA produces national charity reports and local Better Business Bureaus produce local charity reports – all reports are available at Give.org

MEDIA CONTACTS: For more information, journalists for national media outlets should contact Katherine Hutt (212-705-0131 or khutt@council.bbb.org). Journalists for local media outlets should contact their regional spokesperson (bbb.org/bbb-locator).