BBB Offers Checklist in Responding to Charity Telemarketing

March 24, 2010

The number of bogus telemarketers calling to solicit charitable donations continues to increase.  The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has long urged consumers to investigate the reliability of charities before they make contributions.

“Take the time to research charities. Those that are legitimate will welcome your donation tomorrow just as much as today,” says Bill Moak, President/CEO of the BBB Serving Mississippi. “Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot, and be sure to use independent means to do your research.”

Five key questions to be asked of charity telemarketers:

  • Are you a third-party company raising funds on behalf of the charity? For-profit fundraisers can keep anywhere from 25 to 95 percent of the funds they can collect. Most efficient charities spend less than 25 percent on fund raising expenses.
  • How much of my donation will actually end up with the charity? The callers are required by law to disclose this information to contributors. The BBB recommends that at least 65 percent be given to programs.
  • What is the full name and location of the charity?  Be wary of charity names that sound familiar or closely resemble the name of a well-known organization.
  • Does your charity have tax-exempt status with the IRS? This is necessary in order for you to include a contribution to them as a tax deduction on your income tax return.
  • What exactly does the charity do?  If a charity struggles in articulating its mission and programs, then it will probably struggle in delivering those programs.

The BBB offers two independent resources for checking the validity of charities: