Wise Giving Wednesday: Government Actions Address Misleading Appeals for Servicemembers and Veterans

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calendar icon Mar 31, 2021

On March 25, 2021, the Office of the Minnesota Attorney General announced it is suing a company using the names “Contributing to Combatants” and “Coast 2 Coast (C2C) Marketing” for defrauding Minnesota donors. As alleged in the complaint, the company went door to door and misrepresented that it was a nonprofit soliciting donations to send care packages to servicemembers overseas. As stated “C2C does not assemble the care packages or collect the items to comprise the care packages. Rather it claims to partner with a nonprofit organization that collects donated items and builds the care packages with those items. C2C claims to provide the nonprofit with funds to ship the completed packages to the service members.” However, the complaint states further that “…C2C has never used any of the money for that purpose; instead, [the principal] used that money to line his own pockets.”

On March 28, 2021, the Federal Trade Commission along with the Office of the Florida Attorney General announced that it issued a stipulated order for permanent injunction and monetary judgment against a Sarasota-based charity, American Veterans Foundation. As stated in a press release form the Attorney General, the founder of the charity “…signed an order agreeing to a permanent ban against soliciting charitable donations or participating in oversight and management of charities in the future. According to the complaint, filed at the same time as the settlement agreement, AVF raised approximately $6.5 million between 2014 and 2017 from donors nationwide based on misleading promises that donations would assist veterans.”  As alleged, the organization engaged in misleading mail brochures and high pressure telephone appeals that implied it was preventing veteran homelessness when less than three percent of funds went towards this objective.

To help contributors make wise giving decisions when giving to charities that claim to be helping veterans and/or active servicemembers, BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice:

  • Avoid Mistaken Identity. Some veterans charities include the same words in different order or slightly different form. So, be alert and make sure the organization you are considering is the one you want to support.
  • Find Out What They Do. Don’t assume what the veterans organization does based on their name alone. Look for a clear description of the organization’s programs in its appeals and on its website.
  • Be Careful with Phone Appeals. If not managed properly, some telemarketing campaigns for veterans organizations can be an expensive way to raise funds with very little going to the organization. If called, do not hesitate to ask for written information or visit the group’s website to find out about its programs and finances before making a giving decision.
  • Watch Out for Excessive Pressure.  Don’t be pressured to make an immediate on-the-spot donation to a veterans organization. Charities should welcome your gift whenever you want to send it.
  • Ask How Donated Items Will Be Used. Find out how the charity benefits from the collection and resale of used clothing and other in-kind gifts. 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.
  • Check Give.org: In addition to charity reports on BBB’s Give.org and BBB.org 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. In Canada, check with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Video of the Week

As part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide a video interview with Kate Grant, CEO of Fistula Foundation, a BBB Accredited Charity that works to end the suffering caused by the childbirth injury obstetric fistula by increasing the availability of treatment for patients in Africa and Asia and training for medical professionals.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance



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