Why the cancer charity scam matters to you — and what you can do about it

If the recent news about the scam cancer charities getting caught has you feeling smug because yours isn’t a scam organization — you need to think differently about it.

Charity scams hurt all fundraisers.

Because each scam, even a perceived scam, feeds one the top two reasons people don’t give to charity: Why should I give? They’ll just waste all my money!

The ugly, ugly doings of the Cancer Fund of America and its sibling organizations play right into that narrative, and it rubs off on all of us. Because people don’t remember the names of the four specific organizations in the current story. They just remember charities committing sleazy acts that victimize both donors and the people they want to help.

Someone out there thinks you did those things!

There’s not a lot you can do about it, but here’s what you should do:


  • Say something about the scams. Let donors know it outrages you as much as it does them. Don’t make too big a deal of it, but go on the record with it.
  • Show donors how they can see for themselves that you are not a scammer, and how it would never be possible for such deals to happen in your organization.
  • Go hyper-transparent. Make your 990s, your audited annual report, and other financial documents available. Work with all the relevant watchdogs and government agencies.
  • Use social proof: endorsements from the press, relevant celebrities, and ordinary donors to say you’re a worthwhile organization for donors.
  • Thank your donors quickly and specifically when they give.
  • Report back on the impact and importance of their giving. Prove you’re using their money right!

These things are especially important if you are a cancer charity — or any health charity. But every organization needs to excel in these ways. Because every scam story — whether it’s true or a distortion — nudges donors away from you.

Read also The Agitator’s take.


Comments

2 responses to “Why the cancer charity scam matters to you — and what you can do about it”

  1. Great Post! We also have a great post on our perspective on this here at Avalon:
    http://www.avalonconsulting.net/blog/571-fundraising-ethics-made-simple

  2. Great Post! We also have a great post on our perspective on this here at Avalon:
    http://www.avalonconsulting.net/blog/571-fundraising-ethics-made-simple

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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff BrooksJeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 35 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com. More.


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The future of fundraising is not about social media, online video, or SEM. It’s not about any technology, medium, or technique. It’s about donors. If you need to raise funds from donors, you need to study them, respect them, and build everything you do around them. And the future? It’s already here. More.

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Jeff Brooks has been serving the nonprofit community for more than 30 years and blogging about it since 2005. He considers fundraising the most noble of pursuits and hopes you’ll join him in that opinion. You can reach him at jeff [at] jeff-brooks [dot] com.

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