Many charities contact you through the mail, over the telephone or at your door to ask for contributions. Most charities are honest, well-run organizations. In some cases, however, dishonest solicitations are conducted. Here are some basic steps you can take to protect yourself.
Steps to Protect Yourself
- Don’t be afraid to ask questions.
- Find out the full name of the charity. Don’t be fooled by names that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization. Check out the organization carefully.
- If contacted at your home by a solicitor, ask for identification.
- Ask if the solicitor is a volunteer or a paid professional fundraiser.
- If the charity is using a paid professional fundraiser, the charity will not receive your entire donation. Ask how much of your contribution the charity will receive.
- Find out where your money is going and how it will be used.
- Do not send cash in the mail and never send contributions to a post office box unless you know the charity.
- Never give cash unless you get a receipt right away. If possible, always give your donation by cheque made out in the charity’s name. This will ensure your money is going directly to the charity.
- All registered charities issue tax receipts for income tax purposes. Ask if the charity issues a tax receipt and how much of your donation will be receipted.
- If you want to support local charities only, ask where the solicitor is calling from and for what purpose the money will be used.
- Before paying out money to anyone, you should find out if it is a legitimate solicitation.
Know Your Charity — Warning Signs
- Be wary of solicitations that offer little or no information about the charity.
- Question offers of free gifts that are sent with the solicitation. Never feel you must donate in return for an unsolicited gift.
- Be careful of attempts to get you to donate on the spot. Don’t give in to high pressure tactics.
- If you are unsure of a particular solicitation, say no! Contact the charity to determine if they have a fundraising campaign under way. A legitimate charity will need your donation tomorrow as well as today.