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Letter to the Editor: Don't Let One Bad Charity Stop Your Giving

The executive director of the Long Island Community Foundation discusses the recent findings with the Coalition Against Breast Cancer and the gift of charitable giving.

According to New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, the Long Island-based Coalition Against Breast Cancer raised $9.1 million from public donations over the past five years, but almost none of the money was used for cancer research.

The following is from David M. Okorn, the executive director of the Long Island Community Foundation, in response to the recent allegations against the Coalition Against Breast Cancer.

Americans are the world’s philanthropists.

We support, we volunteer, we love, we encourage, and most of us will find a cause or two in our lifetimes that we will support during good economic times and bad. So it is extremely disheartening to read about the despicable actions of the Winston’s and their bogus charity, the Long Island-based Coalition Against Breast Cancer (CABC).

They make a mockery of all of the thousands of dedicated people who give their heart and soul to find a cure for cancer. I wish I could say that this was an anomaly, but sadly, there are those out there who prey on other people’s desire to give to causes they are passionate about.

One way to avoid such a pitfall is to make your charitable giving through a community foundation, as they ensure your generous contributions are only made to bona fide nonprofit organizations.

Community foundations thoroughly review and examine nonprofits prior to making grants recommended by donors. As such, donors never have to worry about the legitimacy of nonprofit organizations they are looking to support. In fact, CABC was denied a grant from the Long Island Community Foundation, as they didn’t meet our standards.

On behalf of all of those in the community, our thousands of donors, and the legitimate organizations we support, please don’t allow these bad apples to stop you from giving. Instead, research organizations before you commit your time and/or money, or you can look to making your charitable gifts through a community foundation and they will do the necessary research for you.

In the words of William Penn, “I expect to pass through life but once. If therefore, there be any kindness I can show, or any good thing I can do to any fellow being, let me do it now, and not defer or neglect it, as I shall not pass this way again.”

[The Long Island Community Foundation is a division of The New York Community Trust -- one of the country’s oldest and largest community foundations -- and is located in Syosset, Long Island. For more info visit www.licf.org]

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