YOUR Money

How do I know if the charity I'm giving to is legitimate?

Scam artists posing as charities can cause trouble for generous Kansans hoping to help their neighbors. Attorney General Derek Schmidt has committed himself to protecting Kansas consumers and providing educational resources to prevent scams and consumer victimization. 

The Attorney General's Office enforces the Kansas Charitable Organizations and Solicitations Act, K.S.A. 17-1759 et seq.  We also oversee any modifications made to charitable trusts to ensure that the intent of the grantor is maintained.

Our office's duties include, but are not limited to:

  • Investigating charities that mislead consumer about where or what their donations are being used for.
  • Investigating scams and fake charities.
  • Investigating improper solicitations of donations. 

Charitable Giving Tips

Investigate before you donate. Some con artists use names similar to well-known charities or pretend to raise money for state or local law enforcement agencies. It is important to be informed when making charitable giving decisions.

  • Ask for written information, including how much of the money raised is actually used for charitable purposes and how much will end up in the hands of the professional fundraiser.
  • Be careful with telemarketers requesting contributions ‑ oftentimes the telemarketer keeps a substantial portion of the donation.
  • Do not be pressured into making a contribution or pledge.
  • Do not feel obligated to send a donation to charities that send token gifts such as key chains, greeting cards, mailing labels, etc.
  • Make certain the charitable organization actually serves the need it claims to serve.
  • Ask for financial statements of the organization to determine who will benefit from the donations.

Tips for Donors:

Real charities will always be happy to take your money a couple days or even a couple weeks after they first make contact with you, so take time to do your research.  High pressure appeals that claim a need is "urgent" are often times a warning sign of a scam. 

Take time to ask the following questions before you donate:

  • What is the charity's exact name? Scam artists often use names that sound familiar to reputable charitable organizations in order to solicit donations.
  • Is the charity registered with the Secretary of State's Office? If so, what is their registration number?
  • Does the charity operate nationally? If so, what is the address of its national offices?
  • Does it operate locally or have a local center? If so, what is the address of its local office?
  • How much of my donation will go to charitable activities?
  • How much of my donation will go to administrative expenses?
  • Is the call being made by a professional solicitor? If so, what percent of the donation will they receive and are they registered with the Secretary of States Office? What is their registration number?
  • What programs will my donation support? Will my donation benefit programs that are available locally?
  • Is my donation tax deductible, i.e. can I deduct it from my own federal income tax return?
  • Ask to be sent financial statements from the organization to determine who will benefit from your donation.
  • If you are purchasing a product that supports a charitable organization, always ask what percentage of the amount you spend will actually support the charity. If it is a product you do not want or need, you might be able to better help the charity by donating directly.

Do additional research before you donate:

  • Search the charity online through a search engine. Check for complaints filed by other consumers.
  • Go to the charity's website and read about the programs it supports.
  • Contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints about the charity or search for the charity online at http://bbb.org/charity.
  • Go to http://www.kscharitycheck.org/ to see if the charity is registered with the Kansas Secretary of State's Office.
  • Find a link to their IRS 990 form which reports their expenses and see if they are associated with any professional fundraisers.

When you are ready to donate, send your donation in the form of a check so you have a receipt.  Do NOT give out credit card or bank information to an organization.

Am I being scammed?

There are some pretty common signs of a charity scam. If you experience any of the following, be careful.

  • The solicitor pressures you into giving money right away.
  • The solicitor refuses to provide you basic information such as the charity's name and address.
  • Your donation is associated with a contest, such as a sweepstakes or a raffle, that sounds "too good to be true."
  • The solicitor wants you to pay in cash or wants credit card information but will not accept a check.
  • The solicitor will not let you mail in a check directly, but instead sends someone to pick it up from you.
  • If you believe you are the victim of a scam, file a complaint with our office.

Additional Resources

  • Visit the website at www.KsCharityCheck.org  or call (785) 296‑4564 to find information on charitable organizations registered in Kansas, your rights as a consumer when giving to charities and the Kansas Charitable Organization and Solicitation Act.
  • Check the Better Business Bureau and others for information on charities:www.give.orgwww.charitywatch.org, and www.guidestar.org.
  • Check out charities on www.give.org for tax deduction qualification, charity ratings and additional information.

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