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Charities that use toll free numbers to call and ask for donations is often an attractive pitch and in many cases can serve great causes. This can recruit and enable participants and activists to reach out without physically being there. On the other hand, some shady business owners can seek profit under the guise of a charitable organization and scam customers out of their money while doing little to nothing to serve the actual cause.
Straight from the offices of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs is a new service that allows the option for consumers to investigate a cause or charity prior to making a donation. On the morning of Tuesday, May 29th, the department released an app for the iPhone and iPad designed and distributed without the use of tax-payer money. The app grants access to a frequently-updated database which includes the financial records of over 26,000 charities and nonprofits registered and regulated within the state of New Jersey. The app will grant the opportunity for “Savvy consumers to do their research before they make a purchase or an investment and they should do the same before giving to a charity,” according to New Jersey Attorney General, Jeffrey S. Cheisa. He continues, “When you look at the numbers you’ll learn some so-called charities dedicate only 10 or 20 cents of each donated dollar to actual charitable programs and give the rest to fundraisers. Other organizations spend virtually every penny on worthwhile charitable projects. With this app we’ve made it is easier to know where your money will go before you donate.”
The Acting Director of New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs notes that this app will also shine a light on which causes are the most un-charitable and which ones deserve more recognition for their efforts. “This app, like our Charities Registration Hotline, provides an important service. It will help shine a spotlight on the state’s most un-charitable charities, and bring well-deserved recognition to the organizations that put donated dollars to valuable use.”
So when that vanity phone number calls, this new app can tell you whether or not the charity is a registered non-profit within the state of New Jersey, how much the charity spends on the program, management and fundraising costs, the charity’s true stated mission, and other known miscellaneous information. This measure is sure to carry on in other states, which will offer another way to increase accountability and recognition among the places that need it most.