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Sweepstakes Letters with a Different Motive

Pushing for donations to untrustworthy "charities"

By Florence Klein

Scam Sweepstakes (cont.)

4. The next sweepstakes has a payout of $6,500 and a donation
request to the National Cancer Center. This one is a bit mystifying,
because in 2006, Pennsylvania’s attorney general settled with a fundraising consultant
accused of “devising deceptive and misleading sweepstakes to boost
donations for numerous charitable organizations,” including the
National Cancer Center. “According to the legal action, the sweepstakes
solicitations falsely implied that each consumer was the winner of
$5,200-$6,500 cash prize. The mailers encouraged consumers to return
the apparent ‘winning’ entry along with a donation to the charity named
in the promotion.” The wording made it sound like the person receiving
the mailer was a winner.

This mailer doesn’t sound that
different, and it’s 2009. Why are they still getting away with this?
Meanwhile, the charity isn’t listed in Charity Navigator and didn’t
provide information to the BBB’s list of charities. The group’s Web site has a copyright date of 2004.

Then there’s the $6,944.50 we could win
if we sign and return various
forms and include a donation to the Disabled Police Officers Counseling
Center, a Florida-based charity. But a check of Charity Navigator
shows that a whopping 78.8% of the money it takes in goes to
fundraising expenses. Its rating of zero stars means that it “performs
far below industry standards and below nearly all charities in its

6. We’re also passing up the $6,000 we could get by
returning the prize registration form and donating to the Disabled
Police Officers of America. This charity spends an even more eye popping 86.5% on fundraising expenses.

7. Finally, there’s the sweepstakes-donation benefiting the Circle of Friends for American Veterans
in Falls Church, Virginia—with a prize payout of $6,762.75. It isn’t
found in either Charity Navigator or the BBB’s charity listing, so
accountability would have to be researched more.

But I’m about out of space and energy.

Published September 14, 2009

Florence Klein

Sweepstakes Letters with a Different Motive
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