22 February 2012

If you received a check from the "National Cancer Research Center"...

... do some research before deciding how to proceed.

Our check (for $2.50) arrived yesterday inside a fundraising appeal, and I was immediately suspicious.  Unsolicited checks can be used as vehicles for scams in which your endorsement of the check commits you to obligations in the fine print.  That did not appear to be the case with this check.

The accompanying letter from Steven L. Blumenthal states -
"The $2.50 check is real.  You could put this letter aside, cassh the check, and forget all about our important laboratory research and national cancer education programs.  But what I really hope you will do is return the $2.50 check along with your own gift of $10.00 or more to help in our fight against cancer."
My wife immediately logged on to access the Charity Navigator website (I would encourage everyone to bookmark this worthwhile site for future reference).  The "National Cancer Research Institute" is, as indicated on their checks, a project of the Walker Cancer Research Institute, which is rated by Charity Navigator with one star (out of a possible four) for accountability and transparency, and 2/4 for finances.  They note that over 50% of the funds raised are used for additional fundraising.  So if you send them $10, about $5 of that will be used to send mailings to more people.

"Program expenses" receive 47% of the funds.  Regarding that "program," Wikipedia states:
The public education portion of the solicitation consists of an approximately 1/8 page list of "risk factors for breast cancer" on the back side of the solicitation. Overall, 52.11% + 43.14% (95.25%) of all donations go to either direct or indirect fundraising costs. The card states that 3.81% of funds go directly to research program services (38 cents out of a $10.00 donation). Thus, of the $12,568,927 raised by WCRI, $478,876.11 went directly to research. As a comparison, an NIH grant awarded to a single Investigator for a specific research study typically ranges from $25,000 to $250,000.
If you read the comments at Charity Navigator, you will see that some people say they cash the check and donate the money to "real" charities.  Or you can keep the money.  But note this - your name and address are on the check (with a scannable barcode), and...
Numerous complaints have been made by individuals who are receiving dozens of letters soliciting funds and are unable to persuade the charity to remove their names from the mailing list. The Center then sells those names to other charities, and people throughout the country have complained of being inundated by requests for money that they can not stop.
The choice is yours.  My check went into the shredder.

16 comments:

  1. They are obviously trying to confuse themselves with the National Cancer Institute (cancer.gov), which is a government agency.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well researched! I've not heard of that here in the u.k., but I expect it's coming any moment now.

    Some years ago, I had a friend who was an agronomist, studying thereasons why crops fail in Africa.

    She told me many stories of how aid money is wasted, how well some agencies pay themselves, how shiny toyota landcruisers are bought out of money paid to charities, when a better use might be supplying starved people with disease-resistant varieties of seed-corn, and building rodent-proof granaries for the harvest.

    I often wonder what proportion of moneys raised by charity just end up paying salaries to fund-raisers, and not doing in the work those fundraisers are touting.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I thank you all for supporting research into what "Charities" do with the money people send them with good intentions but no valid information on where the money goes!..

      Delete
  3. Great! I, too, looked it up on Charity Navigator and was saddened to see the results. So I deposited the 2.50 check in my checking account, then wrote a check for 25.00 to a Cancer Foundation here in Jacksonville that has a very high charity, rating . . . followed by a note to the National Cancer Research Center in their postage-paid envelope, thanking them for the 2.50 and explaining that I sent it plus a donation to a better charity. They'll probably shred it without blinking an eye, but it made me feel better anyways.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I just received my $2.50 check and was going to return it with an ongoing monthly donation of $10. My husband died of cancer and I take every possible way of donating seriously. I JUST found out, from my daughter, about googling to check out charities to which I plan on giving. I'm a senior on a fixed income and REALLY appreciate your findings. Thankyou so much. The check is in the shredder!

    ReplyDelete
  5. Is there NO WAY to remove my address from their mailing lists other than WASTING A POSTAGE STAMP by sending a post card indicating "No Mail Please"? In this day and age I find it abhorrent that they do not provide an easy way to remove yourself from their mailing lists via the internet.

    ReplyDelete
  6. So glad I checked this out because I almost sent a donation (along with their check for $2.50) in memory of my father who died of cancer. I hate being duped, but love being informed. Thank you.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Just mail back the empty envelope from a nearby town.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm not "Anonymous" who gave you that advice. But I believe it is so that they can't tell that it came from you when they look at the postmark that comes from anywhere other than your home town. In short, it's good advice. But you still have to use your own stamp.

      Delete
  8. We just got one of their mailers again today. Beware, if you cash that $2.50 check, it will give them license to sell your info to other charities. And then you will get swamped with more charity junkmail.

    ReplyDelete
  9. I sent a donation to Cancer Research Center for a memoriam to a dear friend's family months ago. No notification to me or the family and the check ,of course,was cashed. I am furious and calls I make to the number are answered by an electronic voice with no mention of the charity and three calls have never been returned. The check was sizable. Do NOT send this so called charity ANY THING!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. Thank you! I will refrain from cashing this check now.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Norm.
    I received two requests from this place.
    One had the 'check'.
    It and all of the paper is in the wood stove.

    ReplyDelete

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