CONSUMER ALERT: GIVE WISELY TO CHARITY
LITTLE ROCK – Charitable organizations worldwide have mobilized for the relief effort in the Philippines following last week’s devastating typhoon, and countless Arkansans will no doubt lend their support to the cause.
Arkansas residents are among the most benevolent in the country, according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. That organization ranks the Natural State seventh among states for giving to charity. Arkansans on average donate 6.3 percent of their discretionary income to charity, with an estimated annual median contribution of $3,554 per person per year.
Cheerful givers should also be cautious givers, Attorney General Dustin McDaniel said today. With the recent tragedy in the Philippines and the upcoming holiday season in mind, McDaniel issued this consumer alert to help Arkansas consumers give wisely.
“This time of year, the people of Arkansas always demonstrate their generosity through gifts to reputable charitable organizations,” McDaniel said. “Many of us will also donate to relief efforts. It’s important to remember, though, that sometimes unscrupulous individuals will try to take advantage of our giving spirits. Some charities may only give a pittance to the cause they purport to assist, while others may just be outright scams.”
Most charitable organizations and professional fundraisers are required to register with the Attorney General’s Office prior to soliciting money from Arkansas consumers. By law, the groups must provide information about how money collected through fundraising is utilized. To determine whether a charity is registered with the State, visit www.ArkansasAG.gov.
For more detailed information about any specific charity, call the office’s Charities Division at (800) 482-8982.
McDaniel encouraged all consumers who intend to donate to charity to consider the following:
• Research an organization before donating money. Legitimate charities will provide potential benefactors with any information requested before donations are made.
• Remember that legitimate charities likely will not resort to high-pressure tactics in order to collect donations.
• When donating to organizations with the words “police” or “fire” in their names, make sure that charitable donations actually go toward the law enforcement or firefighting organizations they purport to benefit. Scammers will sometimes put those words in the names of their phony organizations since the words often trigger positive responses from donors.
• Be on alert for organizations with names that are similar but not identical to that of legitimate, respected charitable groups.
• Do not donate cash. Donate instead by check or credit card for security and for tax purposes.
• Be wary of groups that offer to pick up donations or that go door-to-door collecting money. Legitimate charities will have an official address to which consumers may mail checks.
• Be sure to always check with the charitable organization before responding to unsolicited fundraising appeals.
For more information about how to give safely and responsibly to charities, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website, GotYourBackArkansas.org, or call the Consumer Protection Division’s hotline at (800) 482-8982.