‘Operation Donate with Honor’ aims to make sure your money goes to reputable veteran-related charities

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. – A national initiative surrounding veteran-related charities urges you to make sure an organization is using their money wisely before you donate.

The Federal Trade Commission rolled out "Operation Donate with Honor" this week, saying it worked with every state across the country to take action against disreputable and fake charities targeting people who want to give to veterans.

FOX59 spoke with two locally-based veterans groups, Wish for Our Heroes and HVAF of Indiana, about their operations. The organizations invest 96 percent and 89 percent, respectively, into services that directly benefit veterans.

"We're very proud (that) our ratio this year is 96 percent. That's 96% on the dollar that goes out to the veterans and the military families in need where the donor wants the money to go to," Wish for Our Heroes Vice President Erich Orrick said.

"There is always a concern that what someone is doing is giving a bad name to others, but all we can do is control what we can do, work hard, make sure that those resources are being used for the services that we say they are," HVAF of Indiana Vice President of Advancement Aaron Carmichael said.

While Indiana was not included in a list of states that have taken action against veteran-related scams, the Iowa Attorney General did take action against Indiana-based company Veterans Relief Network, saying the company offered "sweepstakes mailings with deceptive features to entice recipients to send donations," and has agreed to voluntary compliance.

Tim Maniscalo, CEO of the Central Indiana Better Business Bureau, suggested that before you send money to a charity as a result of a mailing or phone call, you do your research and ask some questions.

"Really check out the organization before you give your money," Maniscalo said.

Carmichael suggests you ask for a company's tax ID number and website. If they can't offer it right away, you may want to do further research.

You can look up charities at the following websites:

Better Business Bureau's Give.org

Charitynavigator.org

Guidestar.org