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 Blog Post

'Tis the Season to Be Wise about Your Giving

November 21, 2019 03:30 PM
By: Laura Weis, Deputy Director of Communications & Press

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The holidays are almost here, and along with them comes a spirit of generosity and charitable giving.  Even if you have favorite charities or causes you donate to, how do you know your donation is being put to the best use?  The Department of State's Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations is here to help with some handy tips so you can feel confident when you give.


  • Ask who will benefit from your donation.
  • Find out if your donation is tax-deductible.
  • If solicited in person, always ask to see the solicitor's identification.
  • Consider requesting written information from the charity about its programs and finances.
  • Hang up the telephone on aggressive and harassing solicitors.
  • Be wary of "guaranteed" sweepstake winnings in exchange for a contribution. Participation in sweepstakes offers is voluntary, and donors are not in any better position to win sweepstakes than non-donors.
  • Beware of statements such as "every penny will go to charity." All charities have expenses. Check carefully and know where your money will go.
  •  Find out if a charity is registered by searching the online database at or by calling, toll-free, 1-800-732-0999. Pennsylvania has registered more than 13,000 charities that solicit in the commonwealth.


  • Give to a charity you know nothing about.
  • Feel pressured into giving on the spot or allowing someone to come to your home to pick up a donation.
  • Commit to give over the telephone unless you are familiar with the organization.
  • Give cash, credit card numbers or bank account numbers. Always write a check payable to the charity so you will have a record of your donation.
  • Be fooled by a name that sounds like a well-known charity but isn't the same organization.
  • Make assumptions when you hear words such as "police" or "firefighter" in an organization's name. Although an organization may claim it has local ties or works with local first responders, that doesn't mean contributions to it will be used locally.
  • Feel guilty about not supporting every charity that asks you for a contribution.

Once you've done your homework and followed the above tips, enjoy the spirit of giving and feel good about helping to make a difference.

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