CA Attorney General’s office provides guidelines for charitable donations during holidays

By law, commercial fundraisers must register with the Attorney General’s office prior to fundraising in California and must file annual financial disclosure reports detailing income and expenses for each fundraising campaign, according to California Attorney General Kamala Harris.
According to reports filed with the Attorney General’s office, commercial fundraisers collected $362.9 million in donations in 2010. This figure excludes thrift store operations and vehicle donation programs, which are accounted for separately.
On average, $161.1 million, or 44.38 percent of the funds raised, went to the charities. The remainder was retained by the commercial fundraisers as payment of fees and expenses.
The Attorney General’s office also publishes the Guide to Charitable Giving for Donors, which provides advice, guidelines and information to help donors make informed decisions about giving. The guide is available online at ag.ca.gov/charities/publications.php#guides.
The guide suggests that donors:
• Ask the solicitor how a donation will be distributed.
• Ask what percentage of donations will be used to pay for fundraising expenses.
• Ask if the solicitor works for a commercial fundraiser and is being paid to solicit.
• Avoid cash donation.
• Avoid giving credit card information to a telephone solicitor or in response to a telephone solicitation.
• Learn about a charitable organization, its activities and its fundraising practices before giving. The Attorney General’s office maintains a searchable online database on registered charities and registered professional fundraisers at rct.doj.ca.gov/MyLicenseVerification/Search.aspx? facility=Y. Donors can also check the websites of the Wise Giving Alliance at bbb.org/us/charity and the American Institute of Philanthropy at charitywatch.org.

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