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Top 10 Worst Things A Charity Can Do

St. Paul, (MINN.) – Your daily mail includes stacks of unsolicited donation requests from charities. Your phone rings constantly with unsolicited appeals for money from charities even after you have requested repeatedly that the charity stop contacting you.


Refusing to honor requests to remove someone from their mailing or contact list is a violation of the Charities Review Council’s Voluntary Charitable Giving Standard, which is why it receives a spot on the Charities Review Council’s first annual list of the “Top 10 Worst Things A Charity Can Do.” To help Minnesotans spot unethical practices and be smarter givers this holiday giving season, the Charities Review Council announces the “winners” of this year’s list:


  1. Using donations for personal gain.
  2. Not fulfilling the purpose of the charity. 
  3. Using personal information of the donor for illegal purposes.
  4. Selling private donor information.
  5. Using threatening tactics to pressure donors into donating. 
  6. Refusing to discontinue contact by mail or phone.
  7. Misleading donors that a pledge is a binding agreement. Donors are not legally obligated to fulfill a pledge.
  8. Using emotional appeals without providing crucial information and facts.
  9. Unwisely spending money by spending majority of donated funds on fundraising and management.
  10. Refusing to provide an IRS 990 form when requested. Donors do not know if the charity is fulfilling legal requirements and are deprived of useful information.

“By asking questions of a charity and researching the organization prior to giving can prevent people from falling victim to organizations that engage in these unethical practices,” said Rich Cowles, executive director of the Charities Review Council. “We encourage donors to take charge of their charitable giving by checking out charity reviews before giving at Results of these detailed voluntary charity reviews evaluate the financial health, fundraising and management practices of charitable organizations,” Cowles said. The Web site also features a searchable Giving Guide, which provides detailed information about the mission and programs of charities.

In addition to the list of the worst things a charity can do, the Charities Review Council also put together the list of “Top 10 Best Things A Charity Can Do” available online at The Charities Review Council is a nonprofit organization based in Minnesota with more than 60 years of experience helping the public make informed giving decisions. The Council is the nation’s only statewide independent resource of its kind for donors, offering analytical information about charities, including both local and national organizations. The Council is dedicated to empowering the public in making informed and thoughtful giving decisions, so that donors are can give generously and confidently, knowing they can be more effective in helping charities advance their important community work.

For additional tips on giving smart during the holiday season, visit online at or call the Charities Review Council at  (651) 224-7030 (toll-free 1-800-733-GIVE).