Dubious charity playing in Seattle scores a dubious hat trick

BCRSF logoSee update at end of story

Okay. Readers of this space know that since becoming New To Seattle I have received all kinds of strange phone calls from all kinds of strange charities asking for money. I don’t believe I have taken a fundraising call yet from a charity I consider to be completely on the up and up. These charities often (1) use outside fundraisers that keep most of the cash money raised, (2) play legal accounting tricks to make themselves seem more efficient, or (3) make inconsistent claims.

The other day, I received a call on behalf of a nonprofit that actually seems to be hitting all three goals. Let’s call it a charity reverse hat trick.

The caller was a woman soliciting for something called Breast Cancer Research and Support Fund, or BCRSF. I had never heard of the organization, which isn’t surprising given that there are thousands and thousands of charities out there with the heart-tugging word cancer in their name (many of questionable legitimacy). The woman said the nonprofit was located in Pompano Beach, Fla., but that she herself was in “Southern Nevada.” I learned long ago that is telemarketer code for Las Vegas;  charities don’t like to tell prospective donors they’re being hit up from America’s gambling capital.

She couldn’t answer many of my basic questions, especially how much of the money raised went to the fundraiser and how much went to the stated charitable mission. “I don’t have that information,” she said over and over.

After looking at some documents I pulled on my own, I now know why.

As I see it, according to IRS tax return filings for 2011, the latest available year, by Community Charity Advancement, BCRSF’s legal name, the charity spent none of the nearly $2.2 million in cash raised on what I consider its stated charitable mission. (You can download all the federal filings I mention from this New York State government page.) A big reason is that 87 cents of every dollar raised–nearly $1.9 million–went to BCRSF’s fundraiser, a company identified as Courtesy Call of–yep–Las Vegas. The other $300,000 went mainly to outside contracted management and certain overhead. (I am using round numbers.)

At first blush, that suggests a real-world charitable commitment ratio–direct charitable mission expenses as a percent of all expenses–of 0%, and a fundraising efficiency ratio–the cut of donations remaining after subtracting the cost of raising them–of 13%. Both are truly dreadful numbers, since charitable watchdogs generally set 65% as the lowest acceptable figure for each ratio. (It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve encountered a 0% charitable commitment ratio in Washington State.)

But the often-useless charity website maintained by the Washington State Secretary of State’s Office puts the charitable commitment ratio at 52%–still lousy, but a lot higher. How can this be? The aforementioned legal accounting tricks. In its filings, BCRSF said that it received another $2 million in donated medical goods, also known as gift-in-kind, or GIK, which it then distributed to others.  As I have written here and elsewhere, while GIK is a valid form of donation, it is subject to outrageous exaggeration in value, financial efficiency and even existence. That’s because a couple of big donated gifts of goods generally cost a charity almost nothing to procure and in the hands of the wildest operators often consist of little more than paperwork shuffling without even handling the stuff.

And as it turns out, according to its audited financial statement (also downloadable from the New York State site), BCRSF got all of its $2 million of claimed donated goods from one of the wildest operators in the business. I am referring to World Help, the Virginia-based charity that just got caught making up donations and values (although it says it was duped by an outside consultant). For 2011–the same year it sent that $2 million gift to BCRSF–World Help, once one of the country’s largest charities, has been forced to reduce the value of GIK it said it received and distributed from $224 million to a mere $1.6 million.

World Helpless seems more like it now.  That’s a 99% drop, so stunning it has drawn the attention of state charity regulators investigating the issue of fraudulent GIK valuations as a way of attracting would-be cash donors. The fall has also forced some charities that said they had received largess from World Help, including at least one other beating the bushes in Seattle, Children’s Cancer Recovery Foundation, to restate downward their own results.

So far, BCRSF doesn’t seem to have done that. But applying that 99% haircut would reduce that claimed $2 million to a mere $20,000. By my reckoning, including that sum in the mix, BCRSF’s total charitable commitment ratio still stays at 0%–a lot less than the 52% stated in Olympia–and its fundraising efficiency something like 14%.

That gets me to the third prong of my dubious-charity test: inconsistent claims. On its website, BCRSF has a list of what it says are six cancer research institutions that it sent grants to in 2011. Among the listees is something called “Seattle Cancer Alliance.” (I am going to assume without investigating further that means the Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, its proper name.) However, the BCRSF tax return for 2011–the very same year–listed the total amount of grants given to organizations in the U.S. as–zero. Not one dime, or even a penny. As for the disposition of that claimed $2 million in donated goods, the tax return said explicitly that it all was sent to South America. However, BCRSF’s audited financial statement stated just as explicitly that the goods all went to the Dominican Republic. The last time I looked, that country sat on half of an island out in the Caribbean and certainly wasn’t part of South America.

BCRSF states on its home page that it is “dedicated to the education, health and well-being of women through aiding cancer research and assisting those unfortunately afflicted with this devastating disease.” Right now, in my judgment there’s no evidence that its claimed receipts were so comprehensively directed.

Nor was I surprised to learn that BCRSF has a short and chameleon-like existence. It was only founded in 2008, and the original name was the religiously evocative Seven Sisters of Healing Inc. Its application to the IRS for tax-exempt status, dated June 10, 2009, made no mention that I can see of cancer support or cancer research. Its stated “primary purpose” was to “provide health care equipment and products to those in need in the United States and Central and South America.” That was sufficient for the IRS, which approved the tax-exempt application just a month later.

Well, maybe not evocative enough, or maybe too religious-sounding. In 2011, according to Florida state records, Seven Sisters of Healing Inc. changed its name to the more neutral Community Charity Advancement. Still not a grabber? By that time the organization was soliciting under the name Breast Cancer Research and Support Fund (as well as, somewhat bizarrely, US Firefighters Association). I’m sure it is just a coincidence that the medical name is very similar to that of the bigger, reputable, much-longer-established Breast Cancer Research Foundation in New York.

As is my custom, I invited anyone mentioned or interested in this story to post their comments below.

Does BCRSF have anything to hide? Said the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance in a January report, “This organization either has not responded to written BBB requests for information or has declined to be evaluated in relation to BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.”

This is about the strongest warning possible in the world of charity that mischief is afoot. Penalty box, I say.

UPDATE ON 10/1/2013: In addition to being dubious, the Breast Cancer Research and Support Fund isn’t too smart or organized, either. One might reasonably think from this post that I am not a supporter of the organization, nor a good candidate for a pledge. But unbelievably, I just another solicitation call on behalf of the charity. The caller said she, too, worked for Courtesy Call. And like the last one, she wasn’t terribly well-informed. “What is Courtesy Call?” I asked politely. There was a sigh on the line, followed by a long pause, followed by the distinctive click of a phone being disconnected at the other end.

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Comments

Dubious charity playing in Seattle scores a dubious hat trick — 201 Comments

  1. I received a phone call from these people a week or so ago and finally agreed to pledge $20 but only through the mail as I don’t give out my credit card number to anyone unless I made the phone call. Received the pledge card today and, as I always do before donating, went online to check out the validity of the charity. Thankfully I found your article that confirmed my suspicions since they weren’t listed with Charity Navigator or another charity checker website. I took your advice and have printed your article and will be mailing it along with the pledge card minus any money. It is disgusting to me that these people are allowed to do this.

  2. I received a call from these people a week or so ago and finally agreed to mail them money as I never give out my credit card number over the phone unless I made the call. I received the pledge card today and, as I always do, tried to find something positive about them before sending any money. Thanks to this article I will not be sending them any money. I am sure I will get the followup phone call and when I do I will just hang up. I contribute to a lot of charities but I know how they spend my money as I check them out. This is just disgusting that these people are even allowed to exist.

  3. Thanks for your research! My husband pledged a donation after a phone call and they called back to see if he sent the money and wanted a credit card number. Luckily I overheard the conversation and told him to stop talking to them. I found the mailed donation form and will send it back with this link. Being a breast cancer survivor since 2005, these fake fundraisers really make me sad! Anyone wanting to donate, please donate directly to the medical facility of your choice. Any of the large fundraising organizations including Susan G. Komen are a farce with most of the money lining the pockets of the organization rather than going to the charity.

  4. Great info. They’ve been hounding me for weeks. Being a charitable individual I agreed to the $20 initially to get them off the phone, buy some time and research. Now they are becoming more aggressive. After I answer they immediately launch into how they haven’t received my $20 donation and if I’d like to honor my pldge with a credit or debit card over the phone! Hahaha…ummmm….NO. Thanks for the info again!

  5. Thank you for your research. Received my pledge notice in the mail, sat down to Google the organization, and your article popped up. I printed out your article to return, sans pledge. Thanks again!

  6. I just received a call from this organization a moment ago. She told me about the three levels and I asked if I could just decide later. Then she played the same exact recording of her voice telling the three levels again. I said, excuse me what do you think you’re doing you are not a real person. She told me, I am a real person I am just using a computer for quality control. I hung up immediately.

    I am glad I decided to look online — I will certainly beware of ever making donations on the phone again. Now that I think about it I get phone calls all the time from “the local fire station” about charity events and donations. Maybe those are fraudulent, too?!?!

  7. Thank you so much for your insight and information. I received the call but my instinct kicked in and I decided not to donate. They called me later and asked where was my donation and was rude when I informed them that I changed my mind and they hung up on me. Thank God for the Holy Spirit kicking in with a RED FLAG WARNING!! & Thank you so much for your research and diligence in following this trail of deception.

  8. I have received several calls from this organization, the most recent one a few minutes ago from a Maryland phone number. The calls always start out with someone asking for the same (not my) first name. When I tell them that they have the wrong number, they say that perhaps I can help them and then launch into their pitch. Today I googled them during their pitch and started reading their web site to them. They hung up.

    I never donate over the phone even if I know the organization, because anyone can pretend to be calling on behalf of anyone. Even when I know (and have donated to) that organization, I tell them that it’s a bad practice to call and ask for people’s credit card numbers (because any scammer can pretend to be working for them), so for that reason, please remove my name from their lists.

  9. I was addressing the envelope now to send in my $20 donation but decided to check the web one more time to see if it was a legit charity. So glad I read this and I have now ripped up my check and thrown it in the garbage. The sad part of this is that I really don’t mind donating to worthy causes but how do we achieve peace of mind in donating when we can’t trust the source?
    Jane in Florida

    • I too rec’d a donation request but instead of mailing my check today…I mailed a copy of this article in the payment envelope with a note saying “Don’t contact me again! And what you’re doing is so bad!!” I’d like to hope their conscience would take over but I’m not naive enough to think that it will…so sad…I’ll just keep donating to St. Jude’s Hospital where I know the $ is put to good use.

      • I’m curious to know if they ever take legal action for not donating the money after making a pledge. Did you have any problems?

  10. Thank you for this post and legwork finding out the truth. You just saved me from making a donation mistake. Phone call came on my cell in Athens, GA mid to late May 2017.

  11. Mr.Barrett, Thanks for posting this research. I got a call this morning from this org. You just saved me from being sucked into a scam. This is why I research any potential charity donation beforehand. Thanks for your research. Grateful.

  12. I just received a call from this organization this morning. As many of the people who have commented already, I am a breast cancer survivor, so I naively said I’d do the bronze donation. I did ask for the organization name and location, so I could look it up. I definitely do not plan to send any money. Shame on them for preying on survivors and their families!

      • I received the phone call on 01/15/2017. They called on my husband’s cell phone which I answered and they asked for me. I was shocked they knew my name. The man did sound like a recording and it was hard to understand him like he was reading it. I asked if this was a real person thinking they would just keep going and I would hang up. He said Yes, he was real but he was going thru a computer so that’s why it sounded it funny. He asked if I wanted to donate to cancer research. I said it runs in my family so I said yes. He said Bronze, Silver or Gold. Silver being 35 dollars so I said yes, He would send me paperwork. He then asked my whole name and address. I thought he knew my name. I should have hung up then. I rcvd the letter today 01/20/2017. Now I don’t know if I should send back to money and just rack it up as stupidity after reading all this saying its a scam. What will they do if I don’t send the money. I read where some people are harassed. I’m glad I found this and would love to read an update to this.

  13. I got a call from them last week, asking for someone and told them that they got the wrong number. Then they proceeded to ask if I would like to donate, which made me thought back to my grandma, a survivor, and I agreed to help out and went to the other guy. HOWEVER. The call felt odd to me, like something wasn’t right, but I still gave them my info so that I can look them up when I get the envelope, did that, and found this blog. Very grateful for it. You confirmed to me that they’re a fishy group.

  14. I was caught off guard by this organization. I answered because I was expecting a call from someone who would not have been saved as a contact in my phone. I did agree to a pledge, and decided that I would research it when I got the materials.

    I could not find any positive information about this organization, and this page is actually the best resource on it that I found. BBB site said that they do not disclose their records or have a rating. I will not be sending them anything.

      • I have a dear friend who is has cancer. I offered to donate 35$ and they are sending me a packet, after I gave my name and address. What have I gotten myself into? Do I have to pay? Did I agree to something contractually when i said I would donate?

        Thanks

        • Legally, it depends on the law of the state where you live as to whether a pledge can be enforced with a lawsuit. As a practical matter, few charities for so little money are going to do more than call or send a letter seeking the pledged amount, especially if you send a copy of my post and suggest you weren’t told the full truth.

  15. As a breast cancer survivor I agreed to them sending me a pledge envelop. So glad I checked them out first. Thank you for this blog!

    • They just called me here in South Mississippi. They asked for Debra. When I said they got the wrong number, they said “Well maybe you can help us”. I listened to the woman’s pitch. And said I would give them the Bronze support $20. She repeatedly asked if I was comfortable with that. Sure, why not. Breast cancer has affected several women friends of mine. Then I got suspicious, and started asking questions. Like how much of donations go to administrative and overhead activities, how much goes to the actual charity work? There was a pause, then she said 15% went to overhead and 85% went to charity work. That exact split increased my concern. It was too perfect. I’ve seen this ratio before in my work as a computer scientist. So I decided to see where it would go.

      They connected me to ‘Quality Control” which seems like a “Record your pledge for our legal purposes department”. They again asked me if I was comfortable with my pledge. This was very fishy. The voice responded like Siri, without the pithy attitude we have come to expect from Siri. When I started asking more questions, I was able to confirm this was not a person, but an AI (artificial intelligence) and one that wasn’t Well “trained” yet.

      I asked if I was speaking to a real live person, or a machine. There was a longer pause, then the monotone very neutral voice told me “of course I am a real person. I am only using the computer for quality control”. That’s all I need to hear, Their AI had just failed the Turing Test. The lack of an emotional response when I asked if I was talking to a person was another confirmation that this was an AI. I withdrew my contribution and told them to remove me from their calling list. They called the wrong guy. Like I said, I am a Computer Scientist and have done some work on AI codes. They are much better Like Siri, et. Al.) but they are still recognizable in their intonation and long pauses while they search their response tree.

      The interesting thing was that it let me tell them to take me off their list. Human telemarketers will cut you off the moment they hear you start to say that.

      They were also using a third-party company calling from a number that displayed from Clarksdale, MS. After reading posts here, I assume that’s a number they got to use, or a a spoofed number (not hard to do). They are probably from Las Vegas. I don’t think any of these calls originate from where they claim to be calling from.

      If these people call, just hang up. They seem fraudulent and more likely a phishing scheme to get personal financial information. Do not give them Any money. They appear at many levels to be running a scam.

      • This is the EXACT scenario which describes the call I received! I too was transferred to “Quality Control” which I found odd. The pitch and resonance of the initial caller sounded odd. Quality Control sounded odd which prompted my exact question: “Is this a real person” which received the exact same response as indicated above.

        When they asked for a personal check I was thinking, I’ll get a money order and as I sit here staring at the envelope they sent, on the day it was “due”. I decided to google this firm.

        While I DO sincerely WANT to give, there were just too many red flags for me to do anything here except toss the envelope along with all the other trash.

        Thanks you for the heads up as it may have only been $20 but the insistence on a “personal check” could open the door for a lot more.

  16. Thank you! I asked for the website from the “Quality Control” bot and it took a couple of tries for it to understand what I was asking, was clearly not human. I told the bot I would simply donate on the website it sent me to (which had a online donation form) and it still wanted to send me an envelope with a donation number on it in order to donate online.

    Also they first asked for “Mike”, then said “maybe you can help me” when I said they had a wrong number.

    Smelled Phishy.

  17. I am sure glad I checked this site out just before I sat down to write them a check. I admit I responded to the emotion associated with the term “breast cancer”.

    I will do as suggested and send them back a copy of this blog.

    No ladies festooned in pink ribbons have come after you yet?

    • Technically, that would depend on the law of the state in which you reside. But practically, no. It would be prohibitively expensive for a charity–or more likely its paid telemarketer–to start a lawsuit. Your likely defense–that you weren’t told most of the donation would go for fundraising or that the charity doesn’t really do what it promoted when soliciting the donation and that you only learned this later–would be withering. Consider returning in the pledge envelope a printout of my story. That should be the end of it.

  18. Based on the recent comments, it looks like they’re back at calling unsuspecting people to get money. I got them to send me information via mail first and decided to look them up. They’re name didn’t even show up on the trusted Charity Navigator, so that immediately raised a red flag. Don’t give them any money!!

    • I too just got a call from them and my radar of suspicion went off… I requested that the information be sent with the minimum pledge, and it will be sent but now they have my address – – – as I was doing this search. Tried to call them back but – surprise, surprise, surprise it was busy….Nothing will be donated to them, not following through on a pledge of to fake org is not immoral. Thanks for the research!! I’ll add this link to my FaceBook…

  19. I just received a call and was somewhat tempted as the 18th anniversary of my diagnosis is this week. It just didn’t seem right and I never give money to telemarketers for charities. When I asked her to send info and I would decide she said that she could not without a pledge. A bigger red flag. She told me I could check out their web site and when she gave me the address it sounded like a computer generated voice. Super creepy! I hit Google and ended here. Boy was I right. It is a shame since so many charities, breast cancer and others, really need our support and that money is going to scammers. Shame on them. Always good to be vigilant. BTW I tried calling the number back to see what happens and only get a busy signal.

  20. “not too smart or organized” indeed! I got a call from them today, and the computer voice hung up as soon as I said I was a college student, and had no disposable income. Being the millennial I am, I immediately googled the charity and came across this page. Thanks for posting this useful information!

  21. Thank you for this post. I just received a call from this organization here in Lancaster, PA. The lady who called told me about bronze, silver, gold levels of donation amounts, and asked which I would prefer. I told her I would be happy to have information mailed to me, and then I could make a decision, but she told she could not send anything unless I agreed to donate at least $15, the lowest amount to donate. I declined, so as far as I know, no information will be sent to me, since she thanked me for my time and ended the phone call before she could get any contact information out of me. Reading this post assured me that I did the right thing.

    • Yes, part of the m.o. of these organizations is to get you to “pledge” a small amount before anything is mailed. Many times, the calls are recorded. If you don’t send back any money–perhaps after coming across information like what I write–you may get threatened with debt collection procedures. Visitioins to this site often just print out my story and send that back in the pl;edge envelope, and hear no more.

      • I really appreciate your information. I was solicited at a weak point and because I am a breast cancer survivor I agreed to contribute. As I was writing out the check this morning, I remembered about Charity Navigator that got me to this site. I will be copying your post and sending it with a “no thank you” in the envelope!

  22. They’rere still at it – received a call just today in 2016. After a few questions I came to realize I was talking to a computer! I asked, and the reply was “yes” but for quality assurance reasons. For all I know it’s an operator in India soliciting donations. The recorded voice promts were quite good at responding to common questions, but when I started throwing curve balls I started getting ‘not-quite-right’ responses. Insane.

  23. I live in WI and just received a phone call. I told them I would give 15 dollars but would be checking out their charity first. When I did I found this page. needless to say they won’t be getting any of my money!

    • Don’t be surprise if you get hounded to make good on your “pledge,” even if it contained a condition precedent (satisfactory fact-check). If you get a pledge envelope, consider returning it with a printout of this post.

  24. I was getting ready to mail them a check after receiving a phone call from this organization but after reading this article I will not. Thank you for the research.

  25. Thank you for your research and your article! I received a call last week from BCRSF and was about to send in a pledge, but was suspicious and wanted to check it out with so many scams out there.

  26. So grateful for your post! I got the call last month from them, which started as “is Deborah there?” and when I said she had the wrong number, she said “oh, well maybe you can help me”, and proceeded to pitch me on all the money they give to women of low income who have breast cancer, helps pay for their meds, etc. Then a third-party verifyer supposedly got on the line to confirm my pledge and I received the bill in the mail. Just a day before I mailed the check to them, I received the exact same phone call, asking for Deborah, etc…BUT it was from “war veterans support services” with the exact same phrasing about paying for low-income veterans to help them with meds, etc. I caught that and said I was genuinely confused, that I had received an identical pitch but for breast cancer, were they the same company, etc. The guy stammered, pretended I had said something else, kept talking as if I wasn’t asking him these questions and finally just flat-out hung up on me. SO fishy!!! I tossed the check and bill from the BCRSF and today I received a follow-up bill from them, ugh!!! So frustrating they are so full of $#%& =– but so glad my suspicions were right and that you wrote this article… whew… appreciate your research.

    • I too received the call and since I lost my mom to breast cancer decided to make a donation. I came across your article while doing some research and they will not be getting my donation. Thank you!

  27. Thank you for this information. I was looking into this before sending a donation. They will not be getting it now.

  28. BCRSF called me last week when I was really sick with the flu. With a 101 degree fever, I was feeling so sh***y that I had no strength to say no lol.

    I just received the pledge in the mail and definitely won’t be sending them any money after reading this. I like the idea of sending them a copy of the article instead of the donation, but I don’t even want to waste postage on them!

    Thanks for writing this!

  29. So glad i looked into this before I sent my check! I also Mailed a copy of your story. I am a cancer survivor and will donate locally.

  30. I also received a call from this company and offered to pledge the minimum of $20, but after reading your article they will be receiving nothing from me.
    Thank you!

  31. Thank you so much for this article! I just received a call from a lady who sounded like she was reading from a script. When I asked for the website, she said the letters (http://www.bcrsf.org) out so fast that I could barely catch it. When I asked her to repeat the URL, she proceeded to repeat her rehearsed speech asking for a donation. That’s when I hung up and decided to research to see if this was a scam.

  32. Mr. Barrett:

    Thank you so much for your article! When I received a phone call on 2/12/2016 in Columbus, Ohio I pledged $50. Since I have lost my grandmother and a friend to breast cancer, of course I donate to the cause whenever I can.

    They said the charity name so fast that I wasn’t sure who I was even donating to, but since they didn’t ask for a credit card or anything, I figured it was OK. I should have become suspicious the minute I said that I would donate $50 (it was the highest amount they mentioned giving) and the nice lady on the phone became very excited…it was weird! I will also be sending your article in place of a donation.

    I sincerely appreciate your hard work in researching this “charity” which really provides no support to anyone at all! I will be sending my money to a group which will REALLY help in breast cancer research.

    Thanks again!
    Vicki

  33. They called me last week… in Ohio. I have just received their letter asking that I send my pledge amount by 2/11/16…. a 3 day turn around. I actually thought they were very suspicious as I was talking to them on the phone, but since I do contribute to fight cancer, thought I would at least look at their material and check them out. Thank you so much for your research. I will print out your article and send it to them instead of a donation.

  34. Thank you Mr. Barrett! I also received a few calls in Atlanta, GA. I rarely trust anyone calling requesting money for charities and therefore research before donating. Your article was particularly helpful.

    I will NOT be donating.

    thank you again

  35. Thank you for all of your research, I too received a call in Dec…had never heard of them, decided to see what was up before I sent my money.

    Thanks to all who did research in depth and posted for all the rest of us!

  36. Thank you for this information. I got a call back before Christmas. I was getting ready to send my check and decided to check them out. Glad I did. No check for them. It is a shame that this scams are out there which make people leery to donote.

  37. Yes they called me on 01-5-16 and because it was a cancer charity I was going to donate at least the 20$. For the main reason of my mom having cancer and beat it so she is in remission and once I got the letter I checked the BBB and they are still not accredited for so I will not be sending them $ I will find a cancer charity that actually does something for the research

  38. The organization called my number but asked for my husband. I asked who was calling and the woman said she could talk to me instead of my husband. Apparently this is a work around on blocked calls. The woman was a fast talker who knew how to push a pledge from me. I feel duped.

    • It’s always a good idea to Google the name of any alleged charity calling to ask for money, especially if you’ve never heard of it. Another way is to go on the Web to http://www.give.org, the website of the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. If it’s a sketchy charity, chances are that the BBB has writen that the charity didn’t respond to requests for information. This is a huge red flag that says, “Stay away!”

  39. I just got a call from the Breast Cancer Research and Support Fund, asking for a donation. My mother died of breast cancer, so it’s something I feel strongly about, but I never heard of this particular organization before. I told the (rather insistent) lady that I needed to research the organization before I would commit to donating. Here’s what I found. According to their 2014 tax returns, they gave a grand total of $129,039 for blankets, clothing, hygience products to another organization. $389,311 to “partner agencies.” and a whopping $5.86 million was to “facilitate the delivery of medicine and supplies” to the dominican republic. I didn’t see a single dollar spent on actual research or support, and the $5.86 million looks to be money they gave THEMSELVES. Sheesh. Good thing I didn’t whip out my credit card!

    • The problem with the Breast Cancer Research and Support Fund is that its activities are a little light on breast cancer research and bras cancer support. Yet charity regulators continue to allow the organization to deceive the public.

  40. I got a call from them last week . I thought it was dubious, since I live in Spokane,, BUT, I was in Seattle three weeks prior to talk to the pros. I pledged $20, but I told them I was going to check them out first. Well I have, and I’m ripping up the pledge form. Thanks for the post!

  41. Just got a call to my cell phone(PA number) today from this scam. Super weird fake automation that almost had me fooled. I had no interest in donating but did want to know how they got my number. I asked and they referred me to the customer service number on http://www.communitycharityadvancement.org/ and tried to say goodbye but I quickly said “unsubscribe” and the automated system said it would take 3 weeks or more to unsubscribe, and then the system hung up. I called the 877-239-5756 service number and reached a human who said she could only refer people to the website, to email, and the owner is named Francis(although on their website it lists Kelly). This is totally illegal as i’m on the do not call list. I’ve followed up by sending an email them an email informing them that I need to know how they received my phone number and that I will be filing a complaint with the FCC and the national do not call list. Not only is this company shady, about charitable contributions but its methods to do so are also illegal. I’ll update if I hear more.

  42. Hello Mr. Barrett,
    Wow thank you so much for investigating these low life scammers. I live in ga and received the call last week. It did cross my mind that I probably needed to check the charity out when I got the info. Like a previous post noted things with pink pull at your heart strings. At first the symbol made me think it was associated with the Susan G. Komen cancer charity but the loop is different so that sent up a red flag for me. Also, the address was based out of a placed called Wauwatosa,Wi.

    So glad I listened to my guts and found your site. Keep looking out for us, truly appreciate you.

  43. i also got a call out of the blue from this ‘charity’ and the pledge letter and envelope has been sitting in my purse for a few weeks now. I wasn’t skeptical at first when I got the call, but not two days later I get another call from another charity with the same intro spiel but this time for veterans. Just too coincidental for me. Then when I get the pledge letter in the mail, it doesn’t have my married name, which is the one I gave them over the phone, it has my maiden name. I haven’t used my maiden name in many, many years. So there sat the pledge letter until I could do some research. So glad I did before I wrote out my check. Thank you for your post and information. I will be printing it out and sending it back with my pledge letter.

  44. I live in Virginia, and got a call from them while I was at work. My wife just finished her one year regimen of Surgery, Radiation and Chemotherapy for Breast cancer, and I was busy, so I pledged the $50. While doing my own research on my wife’s type of breast cancer, I learned that there are a lot of organizations that prey off of people’s kindness. Most notably are those who sell pink items for Breast Cancer awareness. Many of these organizations make zero contributions to breast cancer research or support. But they can claim to support breast cancer awareness because their pink item says breast cancer on it, or is simply pink. With one in seven women getting breast cancer, awareness is not a problem. When I received the BCRSF form, I decided to research their charitable credibility and came across your blog. Thanks so much. I’ll not be returning their letter, and look forward to being a drain on their resources as they try to get a dime out of me.

  45. Thank you so much for posting this warning. I thought I was protected by refusing to give my credit card info on the phone, and requiring an “invoice” to pay by check. I received it and thought the “fine print” looked legit…except for the very last sentence. “When you provide a check as payment, you authorize us to either deposit the check as a check transaction or use information on your check to make a one-time debit from you account”. What?! Don’t think so…. did more research and found this blog. Thanks again.
    Trish in CO

  46. I was contacted via phone in May 2015. As I am a survivor as well as having a surviving sister and a grandmother who did not survive breast cancer I agreed to a small donation but via mail. Since I am a savvy consumer I did the research and after seeing your post. I am sending them a copy of your post with instructions not to bother me again. Thanks for your research!

  47. Pingback: Charity trolling in Seattle is sued for fraud by a donor | New To Seattle

  48. Received a call from this organization in July. I know enough to not give over the phone and asked them to send me the form in the mail. I love how they sent me a letter reminding me of my ‘pledge’ – and very little information on the actual charity itself. It did say they were a “special project of the Community Charity Advancement, Inc (IRS 501c3 number 27-0257040)” so that gave me more to go on. That search led to your post and I want to thank you so much for the work you put in here. I had gone to Charity Navigator but they weren’t ranked and I wasn’t sure what else to look up. You are doing great work here. I am going to share this post with my friends on Facebook and Twitter so they get the heads up, as well.

  49. I’m so glad I read these first. Like everyone, I listened and agreed to do a small donatlion, as I have had breast cancer. I got the envelope today, but decided to google it before is sent a check. Needless to say, I will not be sending a check.

    thanks to all who took the time to post so others can read it.

  50. Thanks for this! I just received a call from them a few minutes ago. Was dubious about the call, so just asked them for their website, instead of agreeing to any donation. Then decided to look for reviews of them, and found this.

    • What used to be called the Seven Sisters of Healing remain very active on the fundraising front, and virtually inactive on the helping folks front. This is the second comment I’ve received just today. You are wise to investigation before contributing.

  51. They are still at it here in Seattle, just received a call on Aug 3rd, 2015. I too agreed to the $50 donation, and, as others before me have done, did some research and landed on this website. What an eye-opener ! On the donation form, the donations are sent to:

    Donor Processing Center
    PO Box 26607
    Wauwatosa, WI. 53226-0607

  52. Thank you, thank you, thank you! I appreciate your research and advice to print the article and send it in with a do not contact request. Cannot thank you enough for your thorough research into this “charity”.

  53. After losing my mother, my best friend and my cousin to breast cancer, the call yesterday from BCRSF tugged at my heart. This time, however, I went on-line first and read your research, for which I am very grateful. My experience matched that of others: they were pushy and tried very hard to up-sell their donation request. I will be mailing back their sponsor confirmation with a request not to contact me and without a check. Thank you again.

  54. Thank you, thank you for doing the research ahead of me. I pledged over the phone to see what would happen. I got my return stub, very authetic-like, with comments including :per phone conversation with {Chris}. I even got a sticker for my car window. I began to explore their organization and found all your great info. I wrote scam in bold black ink across the remittance and sent it back.

  55. Just look up the charity’s form 990 via search or Guidestar and you will know all you need about a charity. Just received a call from these guys. Real joke.

  56. Mr. Barrett,
    I made a $20 pledge to the charlatans recently. I received their letter in the mail today and decided to check on their legitimacy. Thank for the information. The letter will go in the trash. They are the lowest of the low.
    Ken

  57. Received a call in June 2015 as well. So grateful for the ability to research the integrity of a “charitable ” organization with a few clicks on a keyboard. I want to specifically thank YOU for passing your research on. My best friend had just been diagnosed with breast cancer…Glad I checked this out. Again, Thanks Lynn L.

    • Regulators ought to stop charities from putting “breast cancer”, “research”, and “support” in the name they use to solicit donors unless the funds raised actually go toward “breast cancer research” and “breast cancer support.”

  58. I received their donation form in the mail after pledging on the phone. I’m glad I checked this out. They WILL NOT be receiving any of my money. There are legitimate charities out there that actually help people.

    THANK YOU for researching this!

    Kathy

  59. I just got a call from “Courtesy Call,” using 507-216-9932 as the CID, supposedly on behalf of the “Breast Cancer Research and Support Fund.” It became apparent that I was talking to a robot, although the voice did rebut that it was “using computer assisted speech to assure quality control.” I tried asking questions, but the robot got confused. I hung up.

  60. Pingback: Scuzzy charity working Seattle calls for the fourth time - New To Seattle

  61. I, too, got a call from these shysters last week! I lost my wife to breast cancer 5 years ago and they got really excited when I agreed to do the top-level of $50. I was transferred to a “senior” person to take my info. After about 3 questions, I realized I was talking to a computer. I gave more info than was requested at each prompt and thought I’d never see the pledge letter but it showed up today. I Googled them and found your listing right on top! What bottom feeding scum. And they don’t even give you a postage-paid envelope!

    • Not very bright scum, either. I’ve already tagged the charity (twice) as a candidate for for my America’s Stupidest Charities list, yet today I got another call! Watch this space for another post soon.

  62. Got a call…agreed to a donation, after read you, decide to return the pledge notice with a note, tha I will not be doing this now after doing some checking…appalled by this as my wife is currently fighting breast cancer…. My donation will be going to Susan komen. The government has got to get rid of these scams…..but not with the current enforcement people….why do they let this happen?

    • Maybe because it keeps changing its name and using different trade names, this charity has managed to fly under the regulatory radar scope. But that wouldn’t take a lot of low flying; charitable regulation by government agencies is pretty weak.

      • I also got a call recently and agreed to $15 donation. After I checked online and found out that they were basically a scam. Have received two letters so far, about one month apart. I am not sending them nothing!

          • I just received my first letter after agreeing to donate $20. Based on what I am reading, I will receive more threatening letters if I don’t send the money. What happens after that? Do they have any recourse?

          • Depends on the state. One suggestion would be to contact your state’s regulator of charities (usually the attorney general’s office), send them copies of the paperwork and, perhaps, my original post, and ask the regulator to write the charity asking for a response to the issues raised in the post. Another suggestion is to write a quick not to the charity saying you’re going to forward the letters to the AG.

  63. I just received my second request in the mail for a donation to Breast Cancer Research& Support Fund. I saw in the small paragraph it mentioned that this was a “special project of the Community Charity Advancement, INC”. I had already decided not to send any money since I just finished treatments for breast cancer and I donate directly to Mary Bird Perkins. Also will be donating my time as a volunteer at the center.
    I read your information on this “support fund” and that confirmed my suspicions.
    Thank you for your input!
    Sincerely,
    Janine in Folsom, LA
    St Tammany parish

    • So far I have seen zero evidence that gifts directed toward the Breast Cancer Research & Support Fund provide either breast cancer research or breast cancer support. Good for you for doing some research. However, such gifts do support fundraisers.

  64. Pingback: Check out the charities that call you wanting donations!

      • THANK YOU VERY MUCH!!! I received the call about 2 weeks ago and I agree to donate because my cousin was just diagnosed with Cancer and she does not have Insurance. I just received the papers to send my donation and I decided to check to see if they where really helping.
        Every day there is more fraud using the Cancer, God help them.

      • Just got a call from them. Every time I hesitated about giving a pledge, they asked for less and applauded me for the amount being asked like had won an Olympic medal. Asked for the website, went on to review them and got to here. Good work! Why aren’t there laws and harsh penalties for fraudulent organizations like this – and why haven’t they been shut down by now? This is 2 years later!

        • To be frank about it, charity regulation in this country is weak. The IRS has some jurisdiction, but no staff. Each state has an agency that’s supposed to do this, but they often don’t see the big picture. I am aware of at least one inter-governmental task force–attorney general offices from a number of states–that was formed several years ago to bring cases. So far: not a single case, although the evidence is compelling and even public record.

  65. Got a call from them last week. After I graciously declined, citing the fact that I recently retired and my husband wasn’t working as much since he completed his rounds of chemo for colon cancer (he’s thankfully been cancer free for 12 months now) our finances are carefully monitored…the gal became almost hostile and wouldn’t take NO for an answer. I told her to send me the packet. Checked out their website, then looked a little further until I saw your link. Scams like this are simply amoral. Using guilt and fear to elicit money just to line their pockets. Keep up the good work in unmasking these frauds!

    Elizabeth H.

  66. Just got a call from them! I asked them about how Obamacare is working for their beneficiaries and they hung up!

  67. I refused to donate to this organization today. The lady’s tone went from sweet to sour quickly. When I went to the website, begrudgingly given to me after I requested it, I found several spelling and grammatical errors. This may not seem like a big problem but I have never seen those type errors on legit charity sites to which I do contribute.

  68. There is very little evidence the charity lives up to its name, which, as I pointed out, keeps changing for what I would consider marketing reasons. The charity is hoping that you won’t check it out.

  69. I just received a call from these folks and when I said I never heard of them and that I needed more info, she just repeated that they support cancer research and women who need financial help. She repeated this when I asked for more info. That’s when I hung up. She did say they were based in Pompano Beach, Fl. So I looked it up. Saw your piece. Glad I hung up. Thanks

  70. I received a call in Columbus, OH, and a follow-up letter when I agreed to pledge. But I had my suspicions. Thanks for this thread — I will NOT be fulfilling the pledge. This scam is super offensive to me, especially since I recently lost a friend to breast cancer. Ugh.

  71. I was called by this same organization. They were very persistent with me as well and have even called to see why I haven’t returned my “pledged” donation. Something about their mailing made me doubtful and so I decided to do a little investigating and thank you very much for taking the time to post your findings. I’ll be more inquisitive with the caller if they call again and let you know if I get any kind of response. By the way, I’m in Arkansas and they claim to be in Wisconsin.

  72. I was called in Delaware. After a pledge form was sent to me, I investigated via Guidestar.org, also found your artlcle and consequently I will NOT be sending any money to this bogus company.

    Thanks very much, Instead I will sent the money I planned on to another LEGIT charity.

  73. This “charity” is still out there. I got a call this week from Courtesy Call Inc., on behalf of the Breast Cancer Research & Support Fund. When I waffled on a donation, they put a gentleman on the phone to confirm my donation. He was rather insistent that I commit on the spot. When I saw that the Better Business Bureau couldn’t confirm the legitimacy of the organization, nor had Breast Cancer Research & Support Fund filed a 2012 tax return, I decided that I had enough evidence to place my donation with a more credible organization.

  74. In my experience, these kinds of charities want an on-the-spot commitment because they know what a little research will reveal to a prospective donor. At the first sign of trouble, they hang up, often without even saying goodby.

  75. I donated 25 bucks to them last year, this time when she called, I said ok, but first I was going to look them up on the internet. She hung up before I finisted the word “internet”.

  76. Some charities have been known to become aggressive toward those sent a pledge card who do not send back money. I don’t know if Breast Cancer Research & Support Fund is one of those. But since there is no consideration or detrimental reliance on the part of the charity for your modest pledge, I rather doubt it is enforceable as a contract. And that’s before raising the issues of deception and misrepresentation. However, if for some reason the charity does get on your case, let me know and perhaps a spotlight can be cast upon the situation.

  77. I thank you for your dialogue on the Breast Cancer Research & Support Fund. I had a sweet lady call 2 weeks ago when I was under the gun with flu. I am Canadian and do feel sympathy for those caught in medical expense in WA. I agreed to a small donation but decide to investigate online. Non-compliance with the BBB only made me more curious. Your answers were my aha! moment.
    So, my small donation is going to the Edensaw Corp. Port Townsend WA who does help individuals in the community – directly.
    I am not sure if they can sting me for what i said I would give – a gentleman came on the phone to confirm me – I think he sends time shares in his other job.
    Anytime you would like to visit the Port Townsend area, please contact me.

  78. A lot of the time, these organizations find me. I just answer the phone. The caller said she worked for Courtesy Call, of Las Vegas, which is the only independent contractor listed in the 990 for 2011.

  79. Mr. Barrett:

    You do find the most amazing organizations. In 2011, 100% of the cash income went to the fundraiser, according to the financial statement notes.

    You didn’t comment that the $1.5M GIK in 2010 came from Stars Foundation.

    Did you notice the notes for both 2010 and 2011 mentioned the fundraiser by name and said they “served as the Organization’s primary representative to locate telemarketing firms qualified to conduct campaigns for the Organization”? The contract allows for subcontracting the work. What organization did your caller say she worked for?

    Jim

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