Before giving to charity, do some research


RALEIGH, N.C. (WNCN) – This is the time of year when we are more likely to give to charities and scammers know that.

That is why they are ramping up their efforts to steal your money.

When you give to a charity like the Salvation Army, you know exactly who you are giving to and you know your money is physically getting to the charity.

But, there are other organizations calling themselves charities that may not be what they seem..

Tuesday, the North Carolina Secretary Of State’s office released its annual Charitable Solicitation report. The nearly 400-page document is a comprehensive look at every registered charity in North Carolina.

“We cannot put anyone out of business because of a low success rate for a charity because it’s constitutionally protected free speech,” explained Secretary of State Elaine Marshall. “But, we can put plenty of sunshine on it.”

Among the information in the report is how much money was raised by the charity and what percentage of that money went to the fundraisers for that charity.

“Any charity that gets bellow 50 percent, look at it skeptically,” said Marshall.

The report shows there are scores of charities operating in this state.

“We recommend if you want to help somebody, do your research,” says Attorney General Josh Stein.

Websites like http://www.give.org, http://www.charitywatch.org and http://www.guidestar.org are a good place to start that research.

“People need to be careful to make sure their dollar is going for a good purpose,” said Stein.

If you are solicited by phone, there is a checklist available online.

You should use to quiz the telemarketer to make sure they are legit. Telemarketers that refuse to answer your questions are usually up to no good.

Other advice:

  • Don’t respond to unsolicited emails and text messages asking you to give.
  • Be careful of social networking posts asking you to donate.
  • Don’t give cash – it can lost or stolen.
  • If you pay by check, make it out to the charity not the fundraiser.

More online resources:

Link to North Carolina Attorney General’s site: How to avoid charity scams and tips on charity giving
Link to Federal Trade Commission on how to detect scam charities

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