HARRISBURG – Pennsylvanians considering making charitable donations for the holidays should first do some research about the causes or groups that they wish to support, according to Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele.
“There are many worthy charities and residents should feel free to contribute to causes that mean something to them,” said Aichele, whose department oversees charities in the state. “However, scam artists are also out there and ready to prey on Pennsylvanians’ generosity, particularly during the holiday season.”
Most charities are legitimate and use the majority of their money for worthwhile projects, but some may misrepresent their cause or spend a high percentage of donations on administrative and fundraising costs. Before giving to any charitable organization, ask what share of your donation will go toward such expenses.
Other tips for informed charitable giving include:
- Never give to a charity about which you know nothing.
- Ask for written information about the charity’s programs and finances.
- Don’t feel pressured into giving on the spot or allow someone to come to your home to pick up the contribution.
- Never commit to donate on the phone if you’re not familiar with the group.
- Never give cash, credit card numbers or bank account numbers. Always write a check payable to the charity so you have a record of your donations.
- All charities have expenses, so understand how your donation will be spent.
- Consult with your tax advisor to determine whether your contribution is tax deductible. Charitable donations made before Dec. 31 may be tax deductible for the tax filing due the following April.
For additional tips and information on more than 11,000 charities and 400 professional solicitors, visit the Department of State’s Bureau of Charitable Organizations online at www.dos.state.pa.us, then click on “charities,” or call 1-800-732-0999.