Good Giving: How to Make Informed Decisions About Giving to Charities

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People are often asked to give money to unfamiliar charities. If this happens to you, take a moment to investigate before you contribute. Call the charity — a reputable organization will welcome inquiries — and carefully examine provided information and materials.

When a charitable organization calls you seeking a donation, the caller must provide the name of the organization and the location of its principal place of business. Professional solicitors calling on behalf of an organization must also provide this basic information about the charity.


Contact your Attorney General.



Here are some warning signs that a charitable request might be fraudulent:

  • The charity’s name is similar to a well-known, nationally recognized charity.
  • Callers use high-pressure tactics to request immediate donations.
  • The caller is hesitant or unable to answer questions.
  • The caller offers to pick up donations immediately instead of waiting to receive them in the mail.
  • The caller offers prizes in return for a donation.
  • The caller requests checks to be made payable to a person instead of the charity.

The Charitable Law Section of the Attorney General’s Office maintains a register of charitable organizations and professional solicitors that raise money in their state. Both must annually file informational returns or financial reports with the Attorney General’s Office. The Charitable Law Section is empowered to investigate alleged fraud and take legal action to end scams and stop the misuse of donations.

To check whether an organization is in compliance with its registration obligations with your State Attorney General, visit your Attorney General’s website.  For a list of Attorney Generals, their websites and contact information by state, click here.

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