Dealing with donation scams: just ask for police permit

I recently encountered yet another alleged “fund-raiser” in town, who openly told me that he was working for “a company” rather than as a charity volunteer. Meaning that most of the donation will go to his salary and as profit to his employer.

When I asked to see his police permit, he produced a letter from his supposed “company”. Of course, anyone can make up a company name and logo and print a letter themselves at home.

During my student days, I participated in quite a few Flag Days directly, as a charity volunteer. We were all given copies of police permits. Any charity wanting to hold a Flag Day must apply for a police permit, and are only given a few specific dates (in order to avoid clashing with other charities). This control is why on any given weekend, there will only be a few charities soliciting for donations.

From the Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth:

Under the House To House And Street Collections (HHSC) Act, a HHSC permit is required if one promotes a collection by way of appealing to the public, made by means of visits from house to house or of soliciting in streets or other places or by both such means, for money or other property.

This HHSC permit is only issued by the police or the National Council of Social Service.

If any genuine charity is outsourcing their fund-raising to private (for-profit) companies, it is guaranteed that most of your “donation” will be going into the fund-raisers’ pockets.

So how to tell if it is a scam?

  • No permit from the police or National Council of Social Service. The date allowed for public fund-raising will be clearly stated, to avoid people re-using their permits.
  • From a “company” instead of a charity. Companies are profit-making entities. The fund-raisers are PAID employees, not volunteers. The money you give them is going towards their commission and a nice profit for their boss.
  • Asking for a minimum donation. Donations should be voluntary, including the amount given.
  • Poor security for cash. The worst case I personally witnessed was a “fund-raiser” keeping cash in a transparent plastic file (other foolish people’s, not mine). He might as well have stuffed the money into his own pocket. Proper Flag Day cans are sealed like canned food and must be cut open.
  • Being vague when asked about beneficiaries. For example, only able to state “underprivileged”, “disabled”, “children”, instead of the specific charity organization they are working for.

Never give money to scammers or for-profit fund-raising companies. This will only encourage more scams, more scammers, and more companies making a quick profit by appealing to sympathy instead of selling a legitimate product or service. In the end, this will reduce the money actually going towards real charities and real recipients.

More articles on scams:

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