Seattle -July 14, 1998-- Money consumers generously gave to buy food baskets for the needy is finally going to its intended cause and not into the pockets of the fund-raiser who originally collected the donations.
The Holiday Basket Fund and its president, Anthony Ditore of Edmonds, will pay
$13,406 in restitution and fees to settle a lawsuit filed by the Attorney General for exaggerating the percentage of the donations to be given along with various other misrepresentations.
“These so-called charities prey on the sympathies of people to get them to donate,” said Attorney General Christine Gregoire. “We're making sure this settlement money goes to an organization that does provide food for the needy.”
Northwest Harvest, a well-known community program based in Seattle, will receive $10,000. The remainder goes to the state for attorney costs and fees.
The fund-raiser claimed over 65 percent of the donations would buy food, toys and other items for holiday baskets to be distributed to various organizations who work with the needy. People were told if they gave $120, that would buy two baskets of food, enough to feed two families of five.
The AG's investigation showed those figures to be greatly exaggerated since most of the funds raised went to pay fund-raisers.
In October 1997 the state ordered the company to stop all solicitations in Washington when it was discovered their practices violated an agreement Anthony Ditore had signed with the state after his 1996 fundraising efforts raised similar concerns.
Consumers are encouraged to check with the Secretary of State's Office at 1-800-332-4483 to make sure a charity is registered. Registration, however, is not a guarantee in itself.
People are advised to ask key questions such as what percentage of their donation goes directly to the charity and how much goes to the fund-raiser. Finally, consumers are encouraged to develop their own giving plan by deciding the types of charities they want to support and researching them before they write the check.