Office of the Attorney General
Attorney General Greg Stumbo Offers Holiday Reminder To Kentuckians About Charitable Donations

Press Release Date:  Wednesday, December 05, 2007  
Contact Information:  Corey Bellamy, 502-696-5643 Office  


Attorney General Greg Stumbo today cautioned Kentuckians to be on guard against fraudulent charities and he launched the office’s updated website which allows consumers to see what percentage of their charitable donation actually goes toward the charity in comparison to how much is paid to professional solicitors and other fundraising expenses.

“Kentuckians generously donate their time and money to many deserving charitable organizations. However, we encourage those which give, to give wisely.”  Stumbo said. “Just as there are good, decent responsible charities, there are irresponsible, even fraudulent charities who abuse the public’s trust.  They will misuse our hard-earned donations to line their own pockets or waste them through mismanagement, excessive compensation or high fundraising expenses.”

Before giving to a charity, consumers should gather as much information as possible to make sure the charity is not a scam.  Scam artists are waiting to take advantage of consumers’ generous spirit over the holiday season by depriving the needy and stealing from consumers.

The public should to be informed and never assume that a person calling or coming to the door asking for donations is a charity volunteer.  There are many bogus or ‘sound alike’ charities that utilize appealing names or causes to mislead consumers into donating to them.

Stumbo unveiled the Attorney General’s updated website which reports what percentage of a consumer’s donation the charity actually receives for all active and recently concluded charitable campaigns.

Some charities hire professional solicitors to do the job. When that takes place, the solicitor gets paid out of the donations that are collected.  A professional solicitor must identify the charity for which he or she is collecting and must reveal if he or she is being paid to solicit and, if asked, and the percentage of donation the charity receives.

All charitable organizations raising funds in Kentucky must register with the Attorney General's Office of Consumer Protection unless they meet an exemption. Consumers can review records of registered active charitable campaigns online at http://ag.ky.gov/charity or by calling 1-888-432-9257.  Stumbo also encouraged consumers to visit the Better Business Bureau’s website, http://www.give.org for more information about charities.

The Attorney General’s Office offers the following tips to consumers this holiday season:

Questions To Ask When Solicited By Telephone

Unless you are already familiar with and support an organization, do not promise you will contribute to its cause when you are called on the phone. Instead, ask:

  • What is the full name, address and phone number of the charity?
  • Do you work for the charity or are you a paid fund-raiser?
  • How much of my contribution will go to the charity and how much to the solicitor?
  • For what purpose will my contribution be used?
  • Is my contribution tax deductible?
  • Is the charity/professional solicitor registered with the Office of Attorney General?
  • What percentage of its total income does the charity spend on its charitable purpose?

Questions To Ask When Examining A Written Solicitation

  • Is the full name, address and phone number disclosed in the material?
  • For what purpose will my contribution be used?
  • Does the organization offer to send me a copy of its financial statement?
  • Is the charity registered with the Office of Attorney General?
  • Does the appeal sound plausible?

Red Flags

Some charitable solicitations send messages or "red flags" which might lead a person to question whether this is an organization worthy of support or even whether it really is a charity:

  • Pressuring you to make a donation.  The Attorney General says “Hang up on aggressive or pushy solicitors.”
  • Refusing to send you written material or financial information.
  • The person soliciting offers to send a courier to collect your contribution.
  • The charity sends you an invoice or statement which indicates a payment due for a contribution you never pledged.
  • The organization's name and logo closely resemble another charity with a similar charitable purpose.

Never

  • Never give your credit card number to someone soliciting by phone.
  • Never give cash. Always make the check payable to the charity and ask for a receipt.
  • Never respond to emails requesting personal information, including your name, address, date of birth, place of birth, social security number or your mother’s maiden name.
  • Never agree to meet with a solicitor in your home or accept an offer for a courier to come to your home to pick up your donation.

If the solicitor claims to be raising funds on behalf of a local charity, contact the charity yourself to verify that it is conducting a fundraising event. It is not uncommon for fraudulent solicitors to falsely associate themselves with local charities just to collect money and leave town.