Wise Giving

November 24, 2013

Helping hands

Charitable organizations solicit for donations in several ways: through the mail, by telephone, door-to-door appeals, the Internet, and announcements in magazines, newspapers, radio and television. Although timing is often critical in responding to the needs of charities, potential donors should not succumb to pressure in making an immediate donation without first checking out the organizations.

Fraudulent solicitors often demand on-the-spot contributions and rely on the expectation that most individuals will not question their efforts. The following tips can help guide you in your decision to give to charities:

  • Be wary of appeals that are long on emotion, but short on describing what the charity will do to address the victims or those in need of relief.
  • If you contribute, do not give cash. Make a cheque or money order payable to the name of the charitable organization, not to the individual collecting the donation. Avoid giving out your credit card number to a telephone solicitor. A seemingly earnest appeal may be nothing more than a ruse to obtain the card number for illegitimate purposes. Instead, ask the caller to send written information on the charity's programs and finances.
  • Watch out for excessive pressure for on-the-spot donations. Be wary of any request to send a "runner" to pick up your contribution. Legitimate charities will be just as happy to accept your donation after you have had the time to check their organization.
  • Do not hesitate to ask for written information that describes the charity's programs and finances. Even newly created organizations should have basic written information available.
  • Be wary of charities that are reluctant to answer reasonable questions about their operations, finances and programs. Ask how much of your gift will be used for those in need and how much will go towards other programs and fund raising costs.
  • If you require a tax-deductible receipt, be sure to ask for one. Be aware that not all charitable donations are tax deductible. Charities are not required by law to issue tax-deductible receipts for all contributions, and those that do issue tax-deductible receipts must be registered with Revenue Canada.
  • Find out what the charity intends to do with any contributions raised in excess of their campaign goal.
  • Check with organizations before donating goods. If the charity accepts donated items, have they confirmed there is a need for these materials? Ask about arrangements for shipping and distribution.