Although most charities are worthwhile organizations that need and deserve support, there are also unscrupulous groups that use fraudulent or deceptive tactics. With that in mind, here are some tips to be aware of when solicited for donations:
- Do not hesitate to request written information rom the charity regarding it’s programs and finances.
- Don’t feel pressured into giving on the spot or allowing someone to come to your house to pick up a contribution.
- Never commit to donate over the phone unless you are familiar with the organization.
- Hang up on aggressive or harassing solicitors.
- Never give cash, credit card numbers or bank account numbers; always write a check payable to the charity so you have a record of your donations.
- Be wary of “guaranteed” sweepstakes winning in exchange for a contribution. Participation in sweepstakes offers is voluntary, and donors are not in better position to win the sweepstakes than non-donors.
- Ask who will benefit from your contribution.
- Find out if your contribution is tax deductible.
- Don’t feel guilty about not supporting all the charities that ask you for contributions.
- Don’t make assumptions when you hear the words like “police” or “fire fighter” in an organization’s name. Although an organization may claim it has local ties or works with local police of fire fighters, it doesn’t necessarily mean contributions will be used locally.
- Be aware of statements such as “every penny will go to the charity.” All charities have expenses, so check carefully and know where your money goes.
- Never give to a charity you know nothing about.
Thousands of charities raise money in Pennsylvania each year. State law requires that these groups, unless they are exempt or excluded, register with the Department of State’s Bureau of Charitable Organizations. To report fraudulent or deceptive practices, please go to www.attorneygeneral.gov. A complaint form is available on the website.