Secretary of State Brian Kemp offers advice to Georgians planning to donate to charitable organizations during this year’s holiday season. Kemp wants donors to be confident that funds are solicited honestly and used for the promised purposes before making any charitable donation.
“During the holiday season, individuals and families increasingly look for ways to lend a helping hand to those in need, and charitable giving is the lifeblood for many vital activities in our communities,” stated Secretary Kemp. “Before making a charitable contribution, I encourage all well-meaning donors to familiarize themselves with the organization to ensure their gift will go to the charity’s cause in a meaningful way.”
Secretary Kemp issues the following tips for charitable giving to Georgians:
– Research charities before you contribute. A number of online resources can help you research charities. The Better Business Bureau, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, Charity Navigator, and Charity Watch provide detailed information about charitable organizations. Also, take time to review the organization’s own website.
– Take the time to make sure that your money is really going to help those in need. Ask how much of your donation will go to the cause. The percentage of your contribution that a charity spends on fundraising activities, employee salaries, or expenses which do not directly support the charity’s stated mission varies greatly by organization.
– Be wary of telephone solicitors asking for contributions. If you are solicited by phone, ask the individual to put the request in writing and provide detailed information and material about the charity and its program. Also, ask if the person conducting the solicitation is a volunteer or a paid fundraiser for that charity.
– Never give your credit card, debit card, or bank account information to a telephone solicitor. Be particularly cautious of couriers willing to rush out to your home or business to pick up your contribution. Avoid sending cash donations. Donate by credit card or mail a check directly to the charity. Do not make payments to individuals. If your contribution exceeds $250, you should receive a letter from the charity confirming its charitable status as well as the amount of your donation.
– If a tax deduction is important to you, make sure the organization has a tax-deductible status with the Internal Revenue Service. “Tax exempt,” “non-profit”, and “tax-deductible” are not synonymous. Only “tax-deductible” means your contribution is deductible on your income tax return. If you contribute to a charity, make sure you get a receipt which shows the amount of your contribution and states that the contribution is tax-deductible. The IRS has a searchable database (“Exempt Organizations Check”) of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
– Not all organizations with charitable-sounding names are actually charities. Many organizations adopt names confusingly similar to well-known charities. Be sure you know exactly who is asking for your contribution.
The Charities Division encourages Georgians to contact division staff if they receive suspicious charitable solicitations. To report suspicious activity, call (404) 654-6023. You can also email email@example.com to submit a complaint.