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Oct
25

Checking Up on Your Charitable Donation?

If you are like me, you receive phone calls on an almost daily basis from various organizations seeking a donation. How do you know if the organization is a legitimate charity, or if you are about to be scammed? Massachusetts law requires all public charities operating in Massachusetts to register and file annual reports with the Attorney General’s Office Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division. In addition, any company that is hired by a charity to perform solicitations on its behalf must also register with the Attorney General. Professional solicitors and commercial co-venturers are required to register charitable campaigns by filing Form 10A (solicitors) or Form 10B (co-venturers), and to submit annual financial reports for each campaign (Form 11A or 11B).

The Attorney General’s Office has created a publicly accessible website, so that members of the public can confirm the identity and validity of a charitable organization before making a donation. These forms are now available to the public via the annual filing document search website, which can be accessed through the Attorney General’s website, www.charities.ago.state.ma.us.

Before you open your checkbook, verify the name, address, and telephone number of the charity, and ask them to send you a written description about the organization and how the funds will be used.
Get the full contact information for the professional fundraiser, if one is used. Find out if your donation is tax deductible, and keep receipts and canceled checks, in case you have a complaint later, and for when you file your tax returns. Never pay cash. Instead, use a check so that you can keep a record of the transaction. If you have questions or concerns, contact the Attorney General’s Office to find out if the charity is registered to operate in the Commonwealth, and whether it is in good standing.

Donating to a charity is a wonderful gift, just be sure you do so wisely.