Sunday, April 03, 2016

Beware non-transparent charities and their unscrupulous phone solicitors...

I'm talking about the Breast Cancer Charities of America (BCCA)/I Go Pink, Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation and Women's Breast Cancer Relief Association. Someone I know is being harassed by phone by these people on a daily basis so I decided to look into them. And after I did, I went out on Social Media and let them know what I thought of them. Immediately they apologized and wanted me to contact them but I just can't. They wouldn't like what I have to say.

Apparently BCCA and its subsidiaries hire sleazy telemarketers who engage in harassment techniques. They call several times a day and when they are placed on call block they manage to call from other numbers. When I researched them, I did not find anything good. This includes non-working phone numbers, phone numbers that do work but you can't get a live person, you're required to leave a message plus virtual office spaces/rent-a-space office addresses, all of which are listed as the contact info on state registries. I also found hundreds of comments from angry donors and non-donors alike complaining about the organization and its subsidiaries and their telemarketing practices. There are also stories and news reports regarding the BCCA's serious lack of transparency. 

Below are the links to a 2013 report by investigative reporter Brian Collister at ABC 13 Eyewitness News in Houston in which he dives right into the critics questioning of BCCA's business practices. I'd say they are very eye-opening:

Brian Collister's investigative report of BCCA Part One
Brian Collister's investigative report of BCCA Part Two

The Breast Cancer Charities of America refuses to cooperate with The Better Business Bureau, Charity Watch and Charity Navigator. They refuse open up their financial practices to the three organizations, which are respositories of information on the financials of charitable organizations. BCCA claims these organizations don't understand how they do things. 

Well, they wouldn't be the only ones who didn't understand. Many states report the charitable donations solicited in their states. The numbers for BCCA are dismal.

The Michigan Attorney General's Office reported in 2012 that only 15% of BCCA's proceeds went into the program's charity. It also reported that the agencies Breast Cancer Relief Foundation (I am not sure if this is the same as Women's Breast Cancer Relief Foundation) only put forth 15% as well while Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation, which only gave only 10% to its causes. 

In the March 2015 report by Eric T. Schneiderman, Attorney General for the State of New York, titled Pennies for Charity: Where your Money Goes, a report detailing the telemarketing by professional fundraisers, it was shown that only 45% of what was raised by Breast Cancer Charities of America went to the charity while only 15% of the funds raised for Beast Cancer Survivors Foundation went to its causes.

I've read through other states reports and they basically state similar numbers. What gives?

If you think someone has some 'splainin' to do, you'd be right. But if you think it's going to happen, think again. Neither Erica A. Johnson (formerly Erica Tullis), Executive Director of IGoPink/BCCA nor her father Greg Anderson, who heads the Cancer Recovery International Foundation Group of charities (that includes the highly criticized Children's Cancer Recovery Foundation run by Erica's father and ranked #11 among America's worst charities, in which it was found that some 80% of funds raised went to pay solicitors) have ever responded to repeated requests to sit down with the media to explain where the funds go and how they are used. The only way the media could talk to them was to track them down in the parking lot outside their headquarters at Suite 604 in The Woodlands, Texas. Oh they smiled at the camera and promised to set up a meeting but it never happened. They absolutely refused to answer questions. Instead, Erica and her father blamed the media.

With all the criticism and complaints about The Breast Cancer Charities of America, Women's Breast Cancer Relief Association and Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation, it makes you wonder how these organizations are even allowed to operate. The thing is...technically they've done nothing wrong so long as they've all filed the proper paperwork with state governments and the IRS and are meeting minimum requirements.

While The Breast Cancer Charities of America/I Go Pink, Breast Cancer Survivors Foundation and Women's Breast Cancer Relief Association are not fraudulent charities, there is a serious lack of transparency, a lot of unanswered questions and the appearance of impropriety going on, not to mention an extreme lack of professionalism and courtesy among the solicitors they hire. It is a fact that people are being mistreated by the solicitors, nothing is being done about it, a large portion of the donations to these organizations is not used for the charity, and there is a refusal on the part of the powers that be at these charities to clarify to the media and the American people exactly what is going on behind closed doors.

IMO, if a charity is truly legitimate, those in charge would be more than happy to disseminate detailed info to the public and cooperating with the media in an effort to spread the word about their organization because that kind of transparency makes them look good and leads to increased donations and the ability to do even more good work. In my opinion, any charitable organization that can't or won't provide details on their structure and what goes where and to whom and refuses to talk to the media to explain their practices is not a charity worth donating to.

You deserve to know where your money goes and how it is used. If you want to check out a charity, it's so easy to do online. Try these links for starters...

Charity Navigator's "Questions to Ask Charities Before Donating"
The Federal Trade Commission's "Before Giving To A Charity"
Bankrate's "How To Check Out Your Charity"

...or just Google key words investigating before donating to charity and read the ton of good information about how to verify a good charity and what people say about their experiences dealing with charities. There's a lot you can learn and you might just save yourself a nightmare. 

Don't let these shifty organizations stop you from donating. There are so many good causes out there led by solid and transparent charitable organizations who do great work and who are more than happy to tell you how your money is being used!

Also, something important for you to know is that charities are not covered by the requirements of the national registry. However, if a third-party telemarketer is calling on behalf of a charity a consumer may ask not to receive any more calls from, or on behalf of, that specific charity. If a third-party telemarketer calls again on behalf of that charity, the telemarketer may be subject to a fine of up to $11,000. 

If you're dealing with harassing telemarketers, there's help. Be sure you're registered at the National Do Not Call Registry, block the numbers calling you but keep them on your phone as a record, and then, if you've been on the DNC registry for the required 31 days, report the harassment to the Federal Trade Commission!

File the complaint, it works! In the meantime, next time the bastards call...there's always this!