A huge scandal came to light this week regarding donation fraud. The Federal Trade Commission brought charges against four different cancer relief charities for defrauding $187 million from their collective donors. The charities in question, Cancer Fund of America Inc. (CFA), Cancer Support Services Inc. (CSS), Children’s Cancer Fund of America Inc. (CCFOA), and The Breast Cancer Society Inc. (BCS), have all been charged with charity fraud. Two of these organizations, The BCS and CCFOA have reached agreements with the FTC and have already been dissolved.
I don’t want to talk about what these charities in particular can do from a public relations perspective. From what I have read there really isn’t anything they could do. No matter what, due to the evidence against them, they are all going to be dissolved. I want to talk about how other charities could best handle this situation. With so many charities involved in stealing so much money, it could prove damaging to the public’s view of charities in general. Other charities might want to get ahead of the game and start to demonstrate their honesty and integrity. Coming out with statements about their feelings on these fraud charges, and demonstrating that they as a charity use funds in accordance with law would help the public believe that there are still honest charities to give donations to. This might seem unnecessary to some, since they themselves haven’t been called into question about their financial practices, but a good public relations campaign at this moment isn’t just to help the public keep their faith, it would also serve as a subtle marketing campaign for all those donors who, due to their charity of choice being dissolved, now need a new charity to donate to.
I don’t mean to sound like I view this unfortunate situation as just an opportunity to get more donations. I assume that any organization I would represent in public relations would trust itself with these important funds, and would want to start making sure those donations go where the donors intended them to. People want to have confidence in the charities they choose, and we can take this unfortunate situation as an opportunity to show them that we are that organization.