Jul 23, 2009

Fundraising Scams Abound

Is it the economy, or am I just happening to notice more news of fundraising scams -- total scams, in which people who are unaffiliated with any organization pose as canvassers in order to raise a few -- or a lotta -- bucks?

Like the woman in Oregon who's been going door to door pretending to raise money on behalf of a cat charity.

Or the young man in Urbandale, Iowa posing as the pitcher for the high school baseball team and requesting money for a supposed team trip to Hawaii.

The kids and adults approaching people in public places in Minneapolis asking for money for local parks.

And the all-too-organized effort among college-age kids in San Francisco selling $40 books, supposedly on behalf of a local hospital.

No, there's probably not much anyone can directly do about such scams -- new ones will arise as fast as old ones get tracked down. But any nonprofit doing outreach or canvassing can help potential donors distinguish the real fundraisers from the scammers by providing lots of official-looking brochures and other identification materials, and giving people a phone number that they can call for verification. (A sophisticated enough scammer can fake all this, too, but it's worth trying to stay at least a half-step ahead of them!)