How to avoid charity fraud and make the most of your donations.
generously to charities and good causes -- but some donations never
reach the people who need help. Some charity solicitations are outright
scams that pocket all the funds people contribute. Other charities
use professional fundraisers that eat up 80% to 90% of the donations
in "fundraising expenses," so almost nothing is left for true charity.
Fraudulent and questionable charities cheat donors, hurt legitimate
charitable organizations that rely on donations - and shortchange
people who truly need help.
Follow these tips to protect yourself against charity fraud:
Ask questions. Reputable charities welcome them. Ask how much of your donation goes for the charitable
purpose. Ask if the caller is a professional fundraiser.
Ask phone solicitors
to send written information. Check out the charity before
you make a decision. Be suspicious if they refuse to send solid
information. Check them out at the national Better Business Bureau
"wise giving" site - www.give.org.
Don't be fooled by "look-alike" names. Some scams use names that sound impressive and are designed
to resemble well-respected organizations.
Be very wary of calls from supposed "law enforcement" or "firefighter" charities. Contact your local
sheriff or police department to check out claims that a donation "will be used locally." Ask for information in
writing before you agree to give. Ask if the caller is a paid professional fundraiser, and ask how much of your
gift will go to the charitable purpose and be used in your community.
Don't give your credit card or checking account numbers over the phone to someone you don't know.
Give directly to a known charity of your choice. That's always the best option. Check your telephone
directory for a charity's local office and contact the office.
There are many fine charities soliciting contributions in Iowa, and the Attorney General's Office is eager to stop
scams and uphold the integrity of our system of giving. If you think you may have been cheated by a
fundraising scheme, write to the Attorney General's Consumer Protection Division, Hoover Building, Des
Moines, Iowa 50319. Call 515-281-5926. The Web site is: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.org