28 July 2017

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.

Reposted from 2012, because after five years this organization is still sending out these checks, and the public continues to find this old post (over 10,000 views so far...) via Google.  Perhaps it will be even easier to find if I make the date more recent.

31 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
    2. Thank you I think my check will also go into the shredder.

      Delete
    3. Thanks' for the information, I will put my check in the shredder also.

      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
    Replies
    1. Mine in shredder also after research of $2.50 check

      Delete
  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.

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  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.

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  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!!!

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

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  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
  12. I was going to send the check back with a letter telling them how offended I was with their guilt campaign. You saved me the trouble. Open wide shredder.

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  13. Just as I suspeced...Don"t you hear my shreader going now ???

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  14. It's August 2015 and my shredder just ate my $2.50 check from these cons

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  15. Thank you. My mom had one of these $2.50 checks. She recently passed away. I am glad I found your blog. I have torn up and thrown away the one I found among her belongs.

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  16. Thank you very much for the information. I got a check today and was suspicious from the start. Into the grinder it goes!!!!

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  17. Got their mailer in May then "googled" them and found tons of information. Can't get over the fact that your info has been out there since 2012 and they are still going strong. Tore up the check eliminating all evidence of who it was sent to and the town etc and am sending a letter with the confetti telling them to "google" their organization - why would anyone send money to an organization that was going to spend that money on collecting more money? Thank you so much for being able to check up on these charlatans. I've had cancer - my husband - one son and my two sisters have died from the disease. I support local organizations that I know do what they should be doing for cancer patients and their families. God bless.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I opened the envelope earlier this evening and there was the $2.50 check. I did a little research, and also found this site. Here is what I discovered. The "National Cancer Research center," aka: "Walker Cancer Research Institute." The following is how donations are used:

    (Percent of the charity’s total expenses spent on the programs and services it delivers) 3.8%
    Administrative Expenses 5.4%
    Fundraising Expenses 90.7%
    Fundraising Efficiency $0.90
    Working Capital Ratio (years) 0.93
    Program Expenses Growth 12.2%
    Liabilities to Assets 8.4%

    Financial Performance Metrics calculations was provided by Walker Cancer Research Institute on recent 990s filed with the IRS.


    ReplyDelete
  19. This is the first time I received this check. I'll dispose of it, but I wonder if I received it because I donated recently to two cancer hospitals, St. Jude's and Memorial Sloan Kettering. The unending stream of requests I receive after making donations to legitamite organizations makes me very suspicious of the whole fundraising industry.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't know if top-notch ethical programs sell their donor lists, but I can guarantee you that many of the fringe organizations do. I had an aunt in Georgia who donated to various obviously spurious veterans and political organizations and after years of doing so, she was at one point receiving 300-500 solicitations per week, to the extent that the postman would deliver entire cartons of letters at a time. It's big business, and quite lucrative.

      Delete
  20. I receive several requests each week; Not only for me but for my spouse, myself and one for my spouse and myself combined. Three for the same charity. One year I saved them all and mailed them back to them all at once. That did not change anything. What a shameful waste!

    ReplyDelete
  21. After receiving the donation request with the $2.50 check, I went to Charity Navigator and could not find this "charity". Then I found your informative blog of 2/22/12. Now.five years later, they continue the same ploy. The check and letter went to my shredder.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Glad this site exists!!!

    ReplyDelete

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