Attorney General Conway Shares Information on Charitable Giving
Allison Gardner Martin
Attorney General Jack Conway today issued a warning to Kentuckians who may be interested in donating to assist storm victims in Oklahoma.
“Please make sure that you donate to a reputable relief agency – like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army or efforts organized through your place of worship,’ said General Conway. “Many times scammers are lurking in the shadows trying to capitalize on the generosity of others during times of tragedy.”
Monday’s tornado in Moore, Okla. appears to be one of the worst storms on record in the United States. Many of the victims are school children who were huddled inside an elementary school.
“God bless the teachers who helped save students in Oklahoma yesterday,” General Conway said. “And may God be with those families who lost their children and those who are still waiting for word. May they be granted a peace that passes understanding.”
Tips for Wise Giving from General Conway
• If you are contributing over the Internet, make sure that the website you are visiting belongs to a legitimate, established, and registered charity, and that the website and the charity match. Also, you should make sure the site is secure and will offer protection for your credit card number.
• Check to see if the charity is registered and filing with the Office of the Attorney General. Registration and filing information can be obtained online in Kentucky by visiting http://ag.ky.gov/civil/consumerprotection/charity/Documents/charity.pdf and http://ag.ky.gov/civil/consumerprotection/charity/Documents/psactivecampaigns.pdf
• Know your charity. Take the time to verify the address, phone number, contact information, and review the website and written material, when possible. Consider a charity’s history, purpose, track record, percentage of donations that goes to those in need and reputation. Never give to a charity you know nothing about. If you have any doubts, well-established charities with experience in disaster relief or organizations established with support from government agencies are generally a good choice.
• Check out websites such as Charitynavigator.org and www.BBB.org/charity, where you will find additional information to help you understand a large number of charities. Examine your options. Do not feel compelled to give to the first charity you come across. There are a number of established organizations already responding to the diverse needs created by the tragedy; in time, there may also be legitimate, smaller charities that will emerge to focus on specific populations and communities.
• Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion. A legitimate charity will tell you how it’s using your money to address this horrific disaster.
• Ask lots of questions. How much of the money goes to the charity and how much to a professional fundraiser? Ask who employs the telephone solicitor, if your contribution is tax deductible and what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions that might remain after the victims’ needs are addressed.
• Beware of professional fundraisers who try to make their solicitations sound like they are coming directly from the charity itself or volunteers.
• Do not pay by cash. 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 directly approaches you, ask to see identification. It is best to mail your check directly to the charity.