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DMANF ISSUES GUIDELINES FOR AVOIDING FRAUD IN DISASTER RELIEF SUPPORT EFFORTS
Washington, D.C., January 7, 2005 - Nonprofit organizations across the nation and internationally have performed miraculously in a very short time frame to provide support to the victims of the Indian Ocean tsunami disaster in Southeast Asia. The Direct Marketing Association Nonprofit Federation (DMANF) urges the generous American public to continue to lend its support to the relief efforts by making contributions. Further, they should be aware that their cash donations for tsunami disaster relief may be tax deductible for the 2004 tax year for donations made through January 31, 2005. We applaud the House and Senate for quick action in passing tax legislation allowing extra time for Americans to make cash donations, and we expect the President to sign this measure into law.
Well-known organizations are highly trustworthy and deserve support as they provide relief over months and years to this affected area. But we also urge the donating public to blend caution with its generosity. With almost every disaster comes some unscrupulous person, company, or organization that will try to take unfair advantage.
The DMANF hopes these guidelines will assist you with your charitable efforts, which are crucial during this state of emergency in East Asia and in the months ahead.
Be aware of the following when choosing a charity:
1. Lack of financial information for the organization. For many established organizations, IRS Form 990's are available on-line at www.guidestar.org. An organization should provide you with their annual reports, or Form 990s upon request. Ask a new organization how their financial information is currently available. For many religious organizations not required to file Form 990 and for new organizations, ask them directly how and where their information is currently available.
2. State officials monitor charitable activity. Your state attorney general's office can tell you if the organization is registered with the state. If you believe fraudulent activity is taking place, please report it immediately to prevent further harm. Contact information for these offices, including links to the respective Web sites can be found at www.nasconet.org. If your state is not listed, call your attorney general.
3. Legitimate organizations will take a check and often will take credit cards. Do not give cash, especially if the organization is offering to pick it up through a courier.
5. "How will my contribution be used?" is a legitimate question to ask. The organization should provide detailed information up front and a contact reference for after the campaign.
6. Legitimate organizations are professional and courteous when asking for your support. Be cautious of high-pressure tactics.
7. If you are contacted by telephone, ask about the caller's relationship to the organization. A legitimate organization may use the services of professional fundraisers, volunteers, and staff, depending on the needs of that particular organization, and will assure that callers readily explain who they are and why they are calling. Ask for the caller's callback information and address if there is cause for concern.
8. Find out what the charity intends to do should any excess contributions remain after they have fully funded the disaster relief activities mentioned.
9. When donating online, be careful of "spoofing," which is accomplished by clicking on a link from an e-mail that appears to be sent from a legitimate source. The e-mail may have the logo and even the correct "sent from" source. Furthermore, the site link may even look like the real organization. To avoid this, go to the organization's web site directly. If you are unsure of the Web address, go to your favorite search engine and enter the organization's name.
10. When donating online, make sure that you enter your personal information only on a site that is secured. Secured sites will have the "lock" icon in your browser.
Finally, and most importantly, do not be deterred from aiding this vital relief and reconstruction effort. Should a solicitation from an organization you do not know give you pause, send your donation to an organization you do know and trust.
Media Contact: Laura Colona 212.790.1532 Lcolona@the-dma.org
About The DMA Nonprofit Federation:
Since 1982, The DMA Nonprofit Federation (DMANF), www.nonprofitfederation.org, and its predecessor organizations have been aggressive and effective advocates for nonprofits in postal, regulatory, legislative, and accountability issues. It has led the way in professional education, networking, and industry advancement. With more than 300 members, The DMANF is one of the largest member segments of the Direct Marketing Association. DMANF is the leading and largest international association for member organizations that use direct and interactive marketing media such as mail, telephone, and the Internet to communicate with donors, members, customers, and the public. The DMANF's full-time staff, located in Washington, DC, is assisted by legal counsel for regulatory and postal matters, and supplemented by the resources and professional staff of The DMA.