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WDAM Viewpoint- Know your charities

Posted: Updated:

June 28, 2011

I have always been proud of the fact that Mississippians rank consistently at—or near—the top every year in charitable giving.  Our state is full of people with big hearts and a willingness to help others and we hope that will always remain the case.  A word of caution however…more than 2-thousand non-profit organizations in Mississippi have lost their tax exempt status in recent times.  You want to make sure when you give your hard-earned money that you are giving to a legitimate charity.  I recently saw some guidelines that make a lot of sense.

--Is the charity or fundraiser registered with the state?

--Get the name, address and telephone number of the organization asking for the donation.

--How will the donation be used?

--What percentage of the contribution will actually be spent on the charitable purpose of the organization?

The Better Business Bureau and the Secretary of State are good places to start your investigation.

Additionally, several other tips were listed:

--Be wary of emotional appeals or high-pressure tactics.

--Be wary of solicitors of offer to send someone to pick up your donation.

--Be careful if they won't send you pertinent information and want you to give immediately. 

--Don't be fooled by impressive sounding names.

--Don't give out your Social Security number or Credit Card or bank account number to someone you don't absolutely know over the telephone.

--Beware anyone asking for cash donations only.  Be suspicious about anyone who wants you to make out a check to an individual…not an organization.  These are just a few tips.  We are not suggesting you let cynicism replace concern.  Only that you mix your compassion with common sense and good judgment.  No reputable charity will have a problem answering your questions or waiting for you to get answers from reliable sources.  I'm Jim Cameron and that's today's Viewpoint.  Be sure and let us know what's on your mind.