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Georgians encouraged to make wise choices on charitable giving

Secretary of State Robyn A. Crittenden announced on Tuesday that she encourages Georgians to give thoughtfully and generously on Georgia Gives Day in the Peach State.

Secretary of State Robyn A. Crittenden announced on Tuesday that she encourages Georgians to give thoughtfully and generously on Georgia Gives Day in the Peach State.

Created in 2012, this campaign greatly benefits charities and non-profits across Georgia on #GivingTuesday with increased support and awareness.

“As Secretary of State, I am charged with educating the public about making wise decisions through charitable giving in Georgia. That is why I am joining countless state and local officials to promote Georgia Gives Day, which serves as an ideal occasion for potential donors to do their research, consider making a contribution to a good cause, and lend a helping hand to those in need this holiday season,” stated Secretary Crittenden. “On this day, I strongly encourage everyone to help us continue this initiative’s success and open their hearts through smart charitable giving. By making a thoughtful donation to a deserving cause, you can make a lasting difference in communities all across our beautiful state.”

As Secretary of State, Crittenden oversees enforcement of the Georgia Charitable Solicitations Act and registration of approximately 6,590 charitable entities in Georgia. Crittenden issues the following advice for successful charitable giving on #GivingTuesday:

  • Research charities before you contribute. A number of online resources can help you research charities. The Better Business Bureau, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving AllianceGuideStarCharity Navigator, and Charity Watch provide detailed information about charitable organizations. Also, take time to review the organization’s own website.
  • Take the time to make sure that your money is really going to help those in need. Ask for detailed information about the charity. Ask how much of your donation will go to the cause. The percentage of your contribution that a charity spends on fundraising activities, employee salaries, or expenses which do not directly support the charity’s stated mission varies greatly by organization.
  • Be wary of telephone solicitors asking for contributions. If you are solicited by phone, ask the individual to put the request in writing and provide detailed information and material about the charity and its program. Also, ask if the person conducting the solicitation is a volunteer or a paid fundraiser for that charity. Call the charity. Find out if the charity is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name.
  • Be careful of email solicitations.  Be cautious of people who contact you online. Do not respond to unsolicited emails and do not open any attachments to these emails. These attachments may contain viruses.
  • Never give your credit card, debit card, or bank account information to a telephone solicitor. Be particularly cautious of couriers willing to rush out to your home or business to pick up your contribution. Avoid sending cash donations. Donate by credit card or mail a check directly to the charity. Do not make payments to individuals. If your contribution exceeds $250, you should receive a letter from the charity confirming its charitable status as well as the amount of your donation.
  • If a tax deduction is important to you, make sure the organization has a tax-deductible status with the Internal Revenue Service. Check the organization’s tax-exempt status and confirm that it is in good standing.  “Tax-exempt,” “non-profit”, and “tax-deductible” are not synonymous. Only “tax-deductible” means your contribution is deductible on your income tax return. If you contribute to a charity, make sure you get a receipt which shows the amount of your contribution and states that the contribution is tax-deductible. The IRS has a searchable database (“Exempt Organizations Check”) of organizations eligible to receive tax-deductible charitable contributions.
  • Review the organization’s financials. GuideStarCharity Navigator, and the Foundation Center’s 990 Finder allow you to review copies of nonprofits’ most recently filed Form 990s. These forms contain useful information on a nonprofit’s assets, liabilities, reserves, expenses, and revenue sources.
  • And remember, not all organizations with charitable-sounding names are actually charities. Many organizations adopt names confusingly similar to well-known charities. Be sure you know exactly who is asking for your contribution.

The Charities Division encourages Georgians to contact division staff if they receive suspicious charitable solicitations. To report suspicious activity, call (404) 654-6021. You can also email charities@sos.ga.gov to submit a complaint.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Hal Kirven

    December 8, 2018 at 12:55 pm

    Before you give, contact and ask for their 990 tax form.

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