Donating Do's and Don'ts
Category : Town Services
Department / Board / Committee : Veterans
Type : General
THE COMMONWEALTH OF MASSACHUSETTS
OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL
ONE ASHBURTON PLACE
BOSTON, MASSACHUSETTS 02108
(617) 727-4765 TTY
Most charities are reputable and worthy of your financial support.
Charitable fundraising is a big business. Like any business, there are a
few charities that operate outside the bounds of fairness. Like any
financial decision, it is important to make donations carefully. Follow
the tips outlined here before making a donation.
Don’t consider donating to any charity, no matter what its name is, just
because it happened to reach you at home by the phone or by mail. You
should select the charities you donate to. Don’t let them select you.
Verify before you donate:
The name, address and telephone number of the charity;
A specific description of how and where the charitable funds
will be used;
Whether your donation is tax deductible as a charitable
The name, address and telephone number of the professional
fundraiser, if any, the charity uses.
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Ask how much of the money goes to the charity; a paid
fundraiser may be involved.
Beware of statements such as “all proceeds go to charity;” the
“proceeds” may not be very much after expenses are deducted.
Ask for financial statements which tell you how much of your
charity dollar goes to fundraising or administrative and general
expenses, and how much is left for the program you want to
Keep receipts and canceled checks, in case you have a complaint later.
They also come in handy when you file your income tax returns.
Call the Attorney General’s Office (617) 727-2200, ext. 2101,
to find out if the charity and its fundraiser are registered to
operate in the Commonwealth. The Attorney General does not
endorse specific charities but does collect financial information
which is available for public inspection upon request.
Call your local police department; some require organizations to
register before soliciting; they may be able to tell you if they
have received complaints about the solicitation.
Call the beneficiaries of the charitable funds – local schools,
shelters, workshops, etc. Find out whether they are aware of the
solicitation and have authorized the use of their name.
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Some phony charities, including for-profit companies, have sympathetic
sounding names, or names that closely resemble those of respected,
Take time to decide. The need is always there; make sure the
organization will be there, too. Don’t be pressured by a hard luck tale. A
legitimate charity will tell you how it’s using your money to make a
Pay by check, and make it out to the charity (use its full name; don’t use
initials), not the fundraiser. Never give your credit card number to a
fundraiser over the telephone. If the fundraiser comes to your door,
always ask to see identification. Better yet, mail your check directly to
Household products and tickets to shows can be legitimate fundraising
tools, but they do add extra costs. If you receive unordered items in the
mail, don’t feel obligated to make a donation. It’s against the law to
demand payment for unordered merchandise.
If a person calls you on the phone or comes to your door soliciting on
behalf of a charity, you can ask them to send you a letter or leave you
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something in writing and ask them to leave. You can hang up the phone.
You don’t need to be rude, but you do need to protect yourself.
For more detailed information about charitable giving, please visit the
Attorney General’s Office website, www.mass.gov/ago, or call the
Attorney General’s Office Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities
Division at (617) 727-2200, ext. 1702.
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