Tuesday, November 24, 2009

News You Can Use

Bad Charity, Just in Time for the Holidays

'Tis the season when humanity's heart warms most toward the condition of one's neighbor. Unfortunately swindlers know this and seek to take advantage of our empathy of guilt.

Take for example this case found in the New York Times...

The New York State Attorney General, Andrew Cuomo, has filed a complaint over the practices of the
United Homeless Organization, citing that among other things, the organization:
"...does not operate a single shelter, soup kitchen or food pantry. It does not provide food or clothing to the homeless. It does not even donate money to other charities that do."
Apparently the group's founders pocketed most of the money donated to the organization through cash gift tables set up on street corners throughout the boroughs of NYC. In other cases workers paid the founders daily usage fees for the tables, aprons and large donation jugs and they kept the remainder of donations.

The organization was not a certified charity and maintained no financial records.

While hearing this type of story is sad, it should not shake our charitable nature. Rather, we should be more aware of the places we donate. Are they good stewards of my generosity? ( We know the Learning Centers are.)

Last year TimeOut New York fielded a question about UHO and ran an answer. At the end, Katie Martin, New York Philanthropic Advisory Service program manager for the Better Business Bureau was quoted and said," If you want to help [the] needy but find this whole thing fishy (it doesn’t help that UHO’s website is nonfunctional), consider donating to more-established organizations like Help USA ( helpusa.org) and Project Renewal ( projectrenewal.com )."

I'll bet there are other locally vetted organizations in your town who also do great work. This is the season to give. Let your heart be joyous.

Happy Thanksgiving from everyone at Scottish Rite Charities.


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