FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: March 7, 2016
Contact: James Hallinan (505) 660-2216
In the ABC’s of Consumer Protection, “C” is for charities
Albuquerque, NM – On Day 3 of National Consumer Protection Week, Attorney General Hector Balderas released tips for successful charitable giving. New Mexicans give $700 million annually to charities, and New Mexico alone has over 6,000 different charities operating within its borders.
“New Mexicans have huge hearts and give generously to charities every year, but I want to make sure our families are making the best donation choices for their finances,” Attorney General Balderas said. “Sadly, there are many unscrupulous organizations and scammers attempting to prey on the generosity of New Mexicans, so it’s critical that New Mexicans arm themselves with the right knowledge before donating money to charitable causes.”
Below are some tips for successful charitable giving:
Know your causes. Make a list of causes and issues to which you want to give. It makes it easier to say no to unwanted solicitations, “I already give to ABC Charity.”
Know the charity. Get the exact name of the charity to which you’re looking to donate. Less scrupulous organizations may use a name similar to another well-known organization. For example, some organizations will switch the order of the words in the name of a well-known charity to deceive donors.
Do your research to make sure the charity you have selected follows the rules. If the charity you want to contribute to is a New Mexico charity, look them up on the Attorney General’s charity search by visiting https://secure.nmag.gov/CharitySearch/ All charities operating in New Mexico should be registered with our office. If you are considering giving to a national charity,
search the Better Business Bureau’s www.give.org search and Charity Navigator’s www.charitynavigator.org website to see if the organization has been reviewed by these organizations. Check if the charity meets all of the standards of the Better Business Bureau and research how many stars Charity Navigator has given them. If the charity of your choice is operating in another state, visit http://www.nasconet.org/resources/ to find the relevant database in order to research the charity’s standing in the appropriate state.
Ask questions. Charitable organizations have an obligation to be transparent about how your donation will be spent, so don’t be shy about asking questions. Also, ask the person soliciting whether or not they are a professional fundraiser, which is a person or organization hired to do fundraising on behalf of an organization. If they are a professional fundraiser, get the name of the fundraising company. Ask how much of your donation will go toward charitable programs and how much will go to the professional fundraising company.
Volunteer. Volunteering prior to donating is a good way to see first-hand how programs and the organization is managed and run.
Don’t feel pressured. Resist the pressure to give on-the-spot. Any legitimate charity is happy to take your donation whenever you want to give it. Do not feel pressured to give to any organization no matter how urgent or heartbreaking the appeal may sound. Legitimate charities should not resort to high pressure tactics to secure your donation.
Do not give credit card information over the phone. Ask to be sent information about the organization through the mail so you may review it thoroughly and confirm the legitimacy of the charity.
Know your rights. If you are receiving unwanted charity solicitation calls, ask the caller to remove you from their calling list. Charities are exempt from the Federal Trade Commission’s “Do Not Call List”, however they are obligated to remove phone numbers from their calling lists when asked by consumers.
Know how your donation will affect your taxes. Just because an organization is a non-profit does not mean it’s a charity. Don’t assume that every soliciting organization is tax-exempt as a charity. You can confirm an organization’s tax status at www.irs.gov/app/eos.
When in doubt, call our office. We are happy to look up a charity’s registration information for constituents. You can reach the Office of the Attorney General’s Charities Unit toll free by calling 1-844-255-9210.
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