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Consumer Watch: Check CFC charities' ratings before donating

Oct. 2, 2013 - 02:26PM   |  
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As the war in Afghanistan winds down and troops return during this year’s Combined Federal Campaign, there is some concern that the public’s interest in contributing to military charities may be waning. With fewer dollars out there, make sure yours go to a charity that you know will put it to good use — a charity you’re familiar with or have researched.

There are a number of well-known and long-standing charities in the CFC military federations, ranging from Fisher House Foundation to Semper Fi Fund and Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors.

Before you donate to any charity, check its ratings with organizations such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. These groups evaluate practices such as the percentage of donations going to fundraising and administrative costs, compared to how much goes to the actual charitable work. Some charities are not rated by all or any of these websites, for various reasons.

The name of a charity may not provide enough information about its mission. Always check the charity’s website, and always do a Web search for the charity’s name.

New places to give

This year, the Military Family and Veterans Service Organizations of America federation (www.mfvsoa.org) has 72 charities. Two are new to CFC:

■ The Gary Sinise Foundation helps build homes for severely wounded veterans, gives Lt. Dan Band concerts for troops and their families and supports families of the fallen.

■ The Army Ranger Lead the Way Fund steps in when government funds fall short to help Rangers and their families with acute medical care, recovery, health, wellness and other programs.

The Military Support Groups of America federation (www.militarysupportgroups.org) has 51 charities. Four are new to CFC:

■ The Army Heritage Center Foundation partners with the Army to expand the Army Heritage and Education Center, telling soldiers’ stories through archival collections, museum exhibits and educational programs.

■ The Military Religious Freedom Foundation aims to ensure that troops receive constitutional guarantees of religious freedom, including making sure they are not forced to conform to a particular religion or engage in any religious exercise.

■ The Quality of Life Foundation Inc. addresses the needs of caregivers of wounded veterans through local and national resources, or through outright purchase of goods and services.

■ Veterans Resource Centers of America provides community-based programs and services for vets of all eras and their families.

Local CFC officials hold their campaigns at various times between Sept. 1 and Dec. 15.

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