St. Louis, Mo., Jan. 2, 2013 – The Better Business Bureau (BBB) is warning consumers to be wary of telemarketers seeking donations on behalf of Good Charity, Inc., a Michigan nonprofit that raises money for causes ranging from paralyzed veterans to children’s leukemia.
The BBB is especially concerned about the charity’s close ties to Michigan fundraising firm Insight Teleservices, Inc. and the high percentage of donations retained by the for-profit company.
Insight Teleservices of Southfield, Mich., has an “F” rating with the BBB, the lowest possible. In May 2011, Good Charity and Insight Teleservices signed a three-year contract allowing Insight to solicit contributions for Good Charity. The agreement calls for the charity to receive 15 percent of gross revenues raised by Insight, but the amount going to help persons in need appears to be considerably less – about five percent.
Records show that Brian J. Maiorana, former director of new business development for Insight, started Good Charity in December 2010. Three months after Maiorana created Good Charity, Insight was reporting that he still was employed by the fundraising firm.
Another Insight official, Sean R. Smith, has been vice president of Good Charity.
Paul K. Marinelli of West Bloomfield, Mich. is owner and president of Insight.
Good Charity has listed addresses in Livonia and Farmington Hills, Mich. Its annual Internal Revenue Service report says it is licensed to do business in Missouri, Illinois and 22 other states.
Michelle Corey, BBB president and CEO, said the involvement of Maiorana and Smith with both Insight and Good Charity raises serious questions about the charity’s operations, including its transparency and potential conflicts of interest.
“Donors should ask themselves whether this is a charity worthy of their support or whether Good Charity was, in fact, created primarily to steer business to Insight and its calling centers,” Corey said.
Carole Bellman, charity review director for the BBB, said it is vital for consumers to view a charity’s motives as pure. “Donors are willing to give, and give generously,” Bellman said, “but they will not give to an organization they can’t trust. Based on what we know about Good Charity, they may have reason to be concerned.”
Michigan records show that Maiorana incorporated Good Charity on Dec. 20, 2010. North Carolina records show that Maiorana was Insight’s director of new business development in December 2008 and remained on Insight’s payroll in March 2011. Sean Smith also was listed among Insight employees that month.
Good Charity documents from 2011 list Smith as vice president, secretary and director. But a later filing – in August 2012 – no longer showed Smith as an officer or director.
Following the creation of Good Charity, Maiorana created 10 related businesses under the Good Charity umbrella. In April 2011, he started Terminally Ill Children’s Fund, United States Paralyzed Veterans Fund, Children’s Leukemia of America Fund, National Breast Cancer Awareness Fund, Disabled Veteran Wheelchair Games, Michigan Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund and Disaster Relief and Aid Fund. Other Good Charity names registered in Michigan are Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund, created in July 2011; and America’s Missing Children Fund and The Autistic Society Fund, both created in March 2012.
A disabled veteran from Herrin, Ill., contacted the BBB about a solicitation from Disabled and Paralyzed Veterans Fund in November. The veteran received a mailing identifying the fund as a program of Good Charity and requesting a $15 donation. The veteran said he was suspicious because he had never heard of either organization. The mailing noted that Insight Teleservices had been retained to solicit donations.
Good Charity’s 2011 report to the IRS says that the charity received contributions of about $1.4 million that year, its first year of operations. More than $1.2 million of the total went to Insight and about $180,000 to the charity.
Good Charity’s IRS filing and its annual report show that the charity Good Charity made grants of about $75,000 to charitable causes in 2011, or about five cents of each dollar donated.
The charity’s website, www.goodcharityfund.org, says that Good Charity is “dedicated to helping causes that directly affect our fellow citizens, the communities in which we live and our nation as a whole.” The site describes Maiorana as director of Good Charity, Inc. Other documents list him as president of the charity.
In addition to his past employment at Insight Teleservices, Michigan records list Maiorana as the owner of Insight Response Group, LLC, described as a marketing, consulting and call center business development firm. The BBB could not determine the relationship, if any, between Insight Teleservices and Insight Response Group.
In 2007, The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel questioned an arrangement that allowed Insight to receive about 86 cents of each dollar raised on behalf of Wisconsin Paralyzed Veterans of America.
Insight also has worked as a telemarketer for Cancer Fund of America, a Tennessee-based charity with high fundraising costs. The cancer charity’s 2011 IRS report shows that Insight kept about $642,000 of the $746,000 raised for that charity, or more than 86 cents of each dollar.
Insight Teleservices has been the focus of several consumer complaints with the BBB. Most say Insight telemarketers have ignored numerous requests to remove their names from their call list. “Leave us alone!!!” one complainant pleaded. “I just want this harassment to stop,” said another.
Officials with Good Charity and Insight Teleservices did not respond to BBB requests for information.
The BBB offers the following tips for donors:
Contacts (News Media Only):
- If you are solicited by a telemarketer, ask the names of both the fundraiser making the call and the charity he or she is representing. Ask how much of your contribution goes to the charity and how much is retained by the fundraiser.
- If you are solicited by mail, understand that a portion of your contribution may go to a for-profit company hired to run the campaign. Call the fundraiser or charity and ask how much of your money the charity will receive.
- Contact the charity to find out how it uses donations from the public. Will it provide direct aid to families, buy medical supplies or be used for education or research?
- Check the charity’s BBB Charity Review at www.bbb.org or by calling 314-645-3300.
Michelle Corey, President & CEO, 314-645-0606, firstname.lastname@example.org
, or Chris Thetford, Vice President-Communications, 314-584-6743, email@example.com
, or Bill Smith, Trade Practice Investigator, 314-584-6727, firstname.lastname@example.org