Pennsylvania Department of State > Business & Charities > Charities > Resources > Tips on Charitable Giving
Tips on Charitable Giving
- Never give to a charity you know nothing about.
- Do not hesitate to request written information from the charity regarding its programs and finances.
- Don’t feel pressured into giving on the spot or allowing someone to come to your house to pick up the contribution.
- Never commit to donate over the phone unless you are familiar with the organization.
- Hang up the telephone on aggressive and harassing solicitors.
- Never give cash, credit card numbers, or bank account numbers; always write a check payable to the charity so you have record of your donations.
- Be wary of "guaranteed" sweepstake winnings in exchange for a contribution. Participation in sweepstake offers is voluntary, and donors are in no better position to win the sweepstakes than non-donors.
- Ask who will benefit from your contribution.
- Find out if your contribution is tax-deductible.
- Don’t be fooled by a convincing name or one that sounds like the name of a well-known charity.
- Don’t make assumptions when you hear words like "police" or "firefighter" in an organization’s name. Although an organization claims it has local ties or works with local police or firefighters, it doesn’t necessarily mean contributions will be used locally.
- Don’t feel guilty about not supporting all the charities that ask you for a contribution.
- If solicited in person, always ask to see the solicitor’s identification.
- Be aware of statements such as "every penny will go to the charity." All charities have expenses, so check carefully and know where your money goes.
- Find out if the charity is registered with the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations by searching the online database (www.charities.pa.gov) or by calling toll-free: 1-800-732-0999.