Don’t blindly donate to a charity. Find out if they are worth your money.
Millions of people around the world are focused on the current crisis involving Syrian migrants fleeing their homes seeking asylum and/or a new life in Europe. Unfortunately, like many other disasters, scammers from around the world will try to benefit from this tragedy by setting up fake charities. During trying times many individuals who have resources to help others become restless as they are eager to help; however, they may not know where to donate their time and/or money.
Often the first charitable organize to the show up usually gains most of the donations. It is very easy for an individual to donate $5 to a cause and gain instant gratification. Depending on the volunteer collecting donations, sometimes a donation could be made out of pity. Or to ensure the volunteer would stop talking, as they may have been cornered on their daily commute.
A great example involves my encounter with the Children’s Joy Foundation (CJF) a group that traveled across the country, from East to West, hitting every major metropolitan area. Their tactics involve ganging up on pedestrians with their transparent box, which coincidentally matched their campaign message. “Give us money, it is for people in the Philippines”.
When I was living in downtown Vancouver back in 2013 there would be a group of individuals with a clear box asking for donations for the victims from Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines. If they had a set location where they were asking for donations, I wouldn’t have given it a second thought. On numerous occasions I would run into them 3 to 4 times at different places throughout my day.
There was something shady about their operations, so I decided to inquire about their organization. They told me that they are a registered charity under the name the Children’s Joy Foundation. The process of becoming a registered charity is cumbersome for good reason – to filter out all the scammers. It turns out there is a registered charity under the name Children’s Joy Foundation. Regardless of being registered, none of the volunteers I encountered ever had a vouchers/receipts for any of the donations they collected.
Nothing lasts forever, as updates regarding Typhoon Yolanda/Haiyan disappeared from the headlines, CJF needed a new way to raise funds. Simply requesting funds from a disaster that is over a year old could be difficult to gain sympathy from the average person. CJF decided to partake in Krispy Kreme’s Fundraising, which involves buying donuts at cost to sell to the general public.
Apparently, you don’t need to be a registered charity to partake in their funding program. Obviously since they also offer this gratuity to various sport and social clubs. What they offer is a generous discount on their dozen donuts. For each order of 25 to 99 dozen donuts Krispy Kreme will initially sell them to you for $5.85. Over time, with enough orders, they will begin selling boxes to you for $4.95/dozen.
How does the application work? You just have to submit a description of your cause and they will hook you up with donuts and Krispy Kreme swag. Krispy Kreme most likely could benefit from this incentive, as the sales could be classified as charitable; therefore, they may not inquire any losses through their Funraising program.
I decided to approach a CJF rep one last time, he could’ve easily passed for a Krispy Kreme employee with his uniform, to ask a few questions. He answered all questions by pointing at the lovely clear plastic box with various pieces of paper taped on various sides of the box. The print was so small and I informed him I wasn’t going to read font size 10 on a piece of paper. I asked him if they were a registered charity (he then showed me a CRA printout on the hidden side of the box that could easily be photoshopped), once he realized I was trying to memorize his RR number, he quickly turned the box around so I couldn’t see it anymore.
When I requested a voucher for my purchase he said he doesn’t issue any vouchers, and that I would need to give him a minimum of $50 where they would mail me a voucher. So if I purchased 5 boxes, totalling $60, there wouldn’t be a voucher anywhere to be seen. By the end of the conversation the CJF rep was very nervous and I walked away not giving them any money.
A friend was nice enough to snap up the picture from the CJF donation box. Something that got my eye immediately was the charity number itself (it ends with RR001). All government registered numbers end with 0001, whether it is to remit corporate tax (RC0001), sales tax (RT0001), payroll (RP0001), or registered charity (RR0001).
I have placed the image of the CJF box from Richmond Brighouse on the left and I have a print screen from CRA’s webpage. Both printouts are from the same section of CRA, where I have added a red rectangle around the number. It is clear they have photoshopped/tampered their printout. All registered charity numbers end with RR0001 yet this printout has RR001.
Regardless that previous investigations across the country have concluded without sufficient evidence about the legitimacy of their entity; defacing government documentation should warrant some sort of punishment by law.
As we are seeing an early autumn in the West Coast, the CJF charity booths are slowly disappearing with the summer sun. However, the takeaway from this story is that we shouldn’t be quick to give. Although many individuals were probably enjoying their donut purchase more than their “charitable” donation, we cannot allow scammers to continue hiding behind charitable entities. Many are wishing to help those who are currently suffering from the Syrian crisis. Donate to credible entities and do your research before you start writing a cheque.