Advocacy by and for People with ABI (Acquired Brain Injury)
Public Policy of Brain Injury Network Policy dated 3-11-10
Organizations or Providers Offering Money to People with Brain Injuries or to the Families of People with Brain Injuries: There is a disturbing trend in certain quarters. People have discovered that it is easy to set up a web site and proactively solicit brain injury survivors and their families with offers of money. For example, a site might suggest that grants are available to families that have a member who is a brain injury survivor. They might suggest that the family will be able to get a grant if they wish to apply for said grant and they ask that the family provide documentation to apply for the grant. However, this is no bargain if the offer amounts to a ruse undertaken for some reason other than actually helping the family or the brain injury survivor secure a cash grant. We wish there would be a way to prevent organizations from dangling such “too good to be true” style offers in the faces of unknowing, and ever-so-trusting and perhaps very desperate survivors and their families.
It is wise to be very careful with offers of money, especially if they are unsolicited. When dealing with any “nonprofit organization” or “foundation” make sure to check out the organization. Does the organization furnish its IRS Tax ID on its web site? If it doesn’t have such an ID it probably is not a legitimate organization. Is the organization incorporated and if so, in what state? You can check with the state’s Secretary of State’s office or Attorney General’s office to verify that the “organization” is on the state’s charitable registry. At the very least are you able to ascertain that the entity is legally incorporated and conducting business in the state it claims to operate from? Does the site furnish the name of the principal staff person or people? How long has the organization been operating? What other grants has it given? What is the source of its funding stream?
The site may really actually be a device by which attorneys find potential clients or patient recruitment companies find patients for studies. They may actually be advertising a potential grant in order to secure the names, stories and addresses of potential clients or patients. That information and you as a client or you as a study participant may be what they are really after. There may be no actual intention to provide any grant money. Please watch out. If an offer looks too good to be true, it probably is too good to be true.
In summary, we say to survivors and family caregivers: be careful when dealing with online, and with unsolicited offers of money, grants, etc. Do not send application information to organizations that you don’t know. If the organization does not indicate its tax standing that is a good indicator it is not legitimate. If you are unable to verify the organization via the IRS (in the USA) and/or the state Secretary of State or Attorney General’s office, do not interact with the site, no matter how sophisticated the site content appears to be.