Military charities ask for help, don't fall for a fake, protect donations

FTC: Payment by wire transfer, gift card, and leaving money for pickup are red flags
Posted at 5:00 AM, May 11, 2023
and last updated 2023-05-11 15:06:09-04

COLORADO SPRINGS — The Pikes Peak Region has one of the biggest military and veteran populations in the country, so there are always service members and their families in need of support. How do you make sure your donation dollars reach them?

Mt. Carmel is an organization in the Pikes Peak Region that relies on donations to help meet the needs of our veterans and military families. In addition to annual reports that show how donation dollars are spent, they’ve also invested in studies that show the social impact of those donations. Leaders at Mt. Carmel say we should demand information like this from military charities so we can feel safe and confident when we give.

”You can’t just hand your money out and not know where it goes. You have to know,” said Dara McIvor, who is getting help at Mt. Carmel thanks to the staff and generous donors.

She says rising rent has left her in a tough financial situation, but the support and resources are helping her through it.

”Now I’m put in a spot where I just needed help and it’s tough to ask for help, but they made it very easy,” said McIvor.

After serving our country, Pat Hendrix knows the significance of getting some assistance during the transition to civilian life.

”During my transition I reached out to Mt. Carmel and I took advantage of some of their resources and programs that they provide,” said Hendrix.

Grateful for the support, Hendrix now donates to Mt. Carmel and says in his experience not every organization manages donation money the same.

”Some organizations may take a large percentage of that donation for administrative purposes or what not,” said Hendrix. “Do your homework. Come down and talk to the folks.”

During military appreciation month you may get a robocall, text, or email asking for financial support for our service members and veterans, but the Federal Trade Commission says we should keep these things in mind before we ever give.

  • Pay attention to the charity’s name. Scammers will use names that sound like well-known charities. 
  • How are they asking for payment? Wire transfers, gift cards, or leaving money under your doormat for pickup are not legitimate. 
  • Don’t trust caller ID. Numbers of legitimate organizations can be spoofed.
  • Don’t trust someone who rushes you into donating

Leaders at Mt. Carmel say consumers should demand transparency from the organizations they give to.
”Ask them for a tour. Ask them to see their statements. Ask them to see if they’ve done an impact study. What’s the social return on investment? Ask the hard questions. The ones that are legit will be happy to show you all the information,” said Mt. Carmel Director of Development Troy Smith.

And remember, you don’t have to take a charity’s word for it. There are several tools to help you investigate charities before you give them your hard earned money.

Helpful sites for finding the right charity:

-Secretary of State’s website


Watch KOAA News5 on your time, anytime with our free streaming app available for your Roku, FireTV, AppleTV and Android TV. Just search KOAA News5, download and start watching.