Know Your Charity
Charities have an obligation to provide detailed information to interested donors. If a charity does not provide you with the information you request, you may want to think twice about giving to it.
Do Not Respond to Pressure
Do not let yourself be pressured into contributing on the spot. You have a right to say no. No legitimate organization will pressure you to give immediately.
Do Not Be Misled by a Charity's Familiar Name
Some questionable charities use an impressive name which closely resembles the name of a respected, legitimate organization. Ask for information in writing. Check out the charity with your state charity registration office before making a contribution.
Do Not Be Enticed by Emotional Appeals
Beware of the pathetic “sob story.” The hard-luck appeal is a favorite of some organizations. Question phone solicitors or direct mail appeals which tell you nothing of the charity or offer vague explanations for spending your charitable dollars.
Ask if the Charity is Registered by Federal, State and/or Local Authorities
Nearly all non-church charities with more than $25,000 per year in income must file financial information annually with the IRS. Currently 39 states and the District of Columbia require that charities register annually. Registration in and of itself is not a stamp of government endorsement of the charity.
Beware of Charities Offering Gifts
Direct mail solicitations are often accompanied by greeting cards, address stickers, calendars, key rings or other “gifts.” Charities do this because it can increase donations. But do not feel that you have to make a contribution to keep these “gifts.” It is against the law for a charity to demand payment for any unordered merchandise. Beware that these enclosed items can mean higher fundraising costs for the organization.