Better Business Bureau questions pink bags for charity

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GREENWOOD, Ind. (March 31, 2016) - They've been popping up in different parts of the country and now they're here in central Indiana.

The Better Business Bureau is warning people to be on the lookout for pink bags that showed up on mailboxes in neighborhoods in Greenwood earlier this week.

The bags from “Clothing for a Cause” come with an information card asking for donated clothing and small household items.

The donor is asked to fill out their name, home address, email address and phone number for a tax donation receipt. The group then returns the next day or so to take the bag.

The card says the donations benefit Operation Love Ministries, based in Anderson. The executive director says they have been involved with “Clothing for a Cause” for almost two years and receive funds from the sale of the donated items.

Operation Love Ministries says they are pleased with their partnership, but the Better Business Bureau Serving Central Indiana has questions about the business practices of “Clothing for a Cause” and the other groups it partners with.

At this time, BBB is attempting to develop a local report for Operation Love Ministries.  According to the website, the charity has residential pickup charities in the Atlanta, GA area under the names of Nspire and Hope House.

According to a BBB Charity Report on Nspire Outreach, also known as Hope for Domestic Violence and Hope House, the charity does not meet four of the standards for charity accountability. With that said, “Clothing for a Cause” may not be breaking the law.

Some Hoosiers are wondering how much money the charities are getting and where the donations are going.

Greenwood police urge people to do research and know who you are donating to.

“They’re calling you on the phone, they’re knocking on your door or they’re sending you emails. You really shouldn't trust that until you verify they are who they say they are,” said Asst. Chief Matt Fillenwarth, with Greenwood police.

Fillenwarth also says if a group is asking that you make a donation quickly, that could also be a warning sign.

BBB advises consumers to only give to organizations you trust. If you have received a pink bag, BBB urges you to report the incident to the BBB's Scam Tracker , or by phone at 317-488-2222.

BBB’s Tips:

  1. Get the charity’s exact name. With so many charities in existence, mistaken identity is a common problem.Thousands of charities have “cancer” in their name, for example, but no connection with one another.
  2. Resist pressureto give on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor.
  3. Be wary of heart-wrenching appeals. What matters is what the charity is doing to help.
  4. Press for specifics.If the charity says it’s helping the homeless, for example, ask how and where it’s working.
  5. Check websites for basics. A charity’s mission, program and finances should be available on its site. If not, check for a report here.
  6. Check with state charity officials. In many states, charities are required to register, usually with the office of the attorney general, before soliciting. Click here for the relevant office in your state.
  7. Don’t assume that every soliciting organization is tax exempt as a charity. You can readily check an organization’s tax status here.