Check charity efficiency before giving



The Secretary of State’s Office recommends that people follow 10 simple steps before donating anything:

■ Ask for the registration number of the charity and paid solicitor.

■ Make note of the individual caller’s first and last name and the name of the telemarketing company that employs the caller.

■ Ask the solicitor how much of the donation will go to the charity, whether the donation is tax deductible, and which charitable programs it will support.

■ If solicited in person, ask for the solicitor’s identification and registration number.

■ Resist pressure to give on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor, and beware if they thank you for making a pledge you don’t remember making. If you feel uncomfortable, just say, “No, thank you.”

■ Do not pay in cash. Donate by check made payable to the charity or use the charity’s website to donate by credit card.

■ Make sure you are visiting the official website of the charity you wish to support, and beware of lookalike websites, especially if you are asked to provide personal financial information.

■ Research the charity’s disclosure and financial statements on the secretary’s website at

■ Be wary if the charity fails to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, finances and how the donation will be used. Reputable charities will gladly provide the information requested.

■ Watch for charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. These sound-alike names are intended to confuse.

With the holiday season upon us, Secretary of State Wayne Williams wants to remind Coloradans to be careful to whom they give money.

Most charities are required to register with the state information like the organization’s leadership, mission, financial efficiency and commercial fund-

The office also tracks how much is given to each charity, including how much donated money actually goes to the charity in question, and how much is paid to fundraising efforts or administrative costs.

Last year, for example, Coloradans gave nearly $472 million to nearly 500 different charities, but only $382 million actually went to them.

That means that about $89.6 million went to cover programming or fundraising expenses, according to a charitable computer database maintained by the Secretary of State’s Office.

Williams said that’s because some private companies are often hired even by the most reputable charities, some of which retain 90 percent or more of the money they raise.

That’s why Williams recommends people take extra care to whom they give.

“It is important for Coloradans to research the charities they support and trust that their donations are being used prudently,” Williams said. “To this end, we encourage everyone to use to learn more about their favorite charities before making donations.”

For example, the Lupus Foundation of Colorado Inc.‘s fundraising campaign for 2014 saw all of its donations actually go to the charity, but it was only one of two charities that did so. Several others, such as Doctors Without Borders, Children’s Miracle Network and the National Audubon Society, were in the 90 percentile or higher category.


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