Sunday, March 11, 2007

Beware of dubious fund raisisng solicitations

It's that time of year again to remind everyone to beware of dubious fund raising solicitations for organ donation awareness.

The last couple of years I received many reports of telephone solicitation for donations in support of organ donation activities. It usually happens around the time of National Organ and Tissue Donation Week in April.

As Ontario's Public Guardian and Trustee states on their web site, donations are a critical source of funding for many worthwhile causes.

Unfortunately, there are con artists who pretend to be raising money for charity, but keep donations for their personal gain. They may contact you by mail, e-mail, telephone, web site solicitations or in person. Once a donation has been made, there is usually nothing you can do to get it back. Before making any donation, be careful!

In Ontario, Trillium Gift of Life Network is the government agency responsible for educating the public on organ and tissue donation awareness. Through their vast volunteer network and other initiatives they provide speakers and materials promoting organ and tissue donation.

As their web site states, Trillium Gift of Life Network does not undertake or participate in fundraising activities relating to organ and tissue donation. They are not affiliated with, nor do they endorse, any organization that may solicit funds from you for these purposes.

In addition to soliciting donations for organ donation awareness, some of the scam artists claim to be raising money for medical research and even go so far as to ask for donations of planned gifts (Includes life insurance policies, bequests, annuities, charitable remainder trusts and real estate properties) and major Gifts (Includes large financial donations that are recognized as significant support) all in the name of medical research.

Donations to these dubious charities divert money that could be going to hospital foundations and organizations such as The Kidney Foundation, The Lung Association, The Heart & Stroke Foundation, etc.

All major hospitals have foundations that raise money for their institutions. Because I had my life-saving lung transplant at Toronto General Hospital, my charity of choice is the Toronto General & Western Hospital Foundation which does wonderful work in raising funds not only for medical research but for the general needs of the hospital as well.

If you are concerned about the legitimacy of an organization that solicits you for money, Ontario's Public Guardian and Trustee offers advice about questions to ask. You can see a list of these questions on their web site at: Attorney General. Or you can call them at (416) 326-1963 or 1-800-366-0335, extension 6-1963.

“You Have the Power to Save Lives – Sign Your Donor Card & Tell Your Loved Ones of Your Decision”

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