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Donate wisely during Giving Tuesday
Today many people across the country and globe are celebrating Giving Tuesday, a time to donate to charitable causes. This is a meaningful opportunity that encourages everyone to set aside time or dollars this holiday season to better our communities.
If you are planning on donating to a charity as part of Giving Tuesday or at any other time, make sure to do your research so that you know your contribution will be well spent.
Although most charitable organizations use donations wisely, some scammers are out to take advantage of consumers’ hearts and wallets. Protect yourself by finding out if the charity is legitimate and contacting the organization first. For example, you can visit the Internal Revenue Service’s website that maintains a list of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
Next, find out how much the charity spends on administrative expenses, fundraising, programs and services. Several independent organizations have compiled financial information on charities, especially those that conduct nationwide solicitation campaigns. For a list of these organizations visit the Attorney General’s website.
Also, know that many charitable organizations use professional solicitors to raise money on their behalf, which can significantly reduce the amount of your donation the charity will actually receive. The fact that a charity uses a paid solicitor does not mean you should not contribute to the charity, but you should ask for the percentage of gross revenue the charity will retain after the professional solicitor has been paid and all other expenses of the fundraising campaign have been paid. For a list of organizations that pay a professional solicitor, click here.
Below are more guidelines to follow for safe charitable giving:
• Ask the caller for written information on the charitable organization, including the charity's name, address, telephone number, mission and details on how your donation will be used.
• Watch out for charities with similar sounding names. Some unscrupulous charities use names that are very similar to those of respected organizations to scam consumers.
• Do not click on pop-up solicitations or reply to emails asking for donations. These are likely phishing scams.
• Know that under Indiana law, you have the right to cancel a pledge prior to making a contribution.
• If you are solicited for a donation, ask the caller if they are working for a paid solicitor. If the caller is working for a solicitor, tell the caller you want to know the percentage of gross revenue the charity will retain after the professional solicitor has been paid and all other expenses of the fundraising campaign have been paid.
• Always make contributions by credit card or check and payable to the charitable organization, not to the solicitor. Never wire money or use a pre-paid debit card to make a donation.
For more information, visit http://www.IndianaConsumer.com and click on “Charities and Donors.”
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