Report offers tips for donors to avoid holiday charity scams

December 3, 2012

By Staff

NEW — 10 a.m. Dec. 3, 2012

Secretary of State Sam Reed and state Attorney General Rob McKenna urged consumers to beware holiday charity scams Wednesday, and unveiled a report to help residents donate wisely.

Throughout 2012, charities using commercial fundraisers in Washington received 46 percent of total donations raised by the fundraisers — lower than the 56 percent in the 2011 report and a major drop from the  77 percent in the 2010 report.

But the percentage individual fundraisers retained varied. Some fundraisers kept less than 10 percent and sent the remaining funds to charity. Other fundraisers’ fees and expenses exceeded the amount raised.

The report, compiled by the Charities Program in Reed’s office and released Nov. 29, spotlights recent financial information for commercial fundraisers soliciting or collecting donations on behalf of charity clients.

The causes vary and include police, firefighter and veteran organizations, medical research, animals, civil liberties, environmental issues and more.

Solicitors especially target people 65 and older. Officials urged seniors to conduct careful research before donating.

“I’ve been so impressed with the generosity of Washington residents over the years,” Reed said in a statement. “So many people here give money to help those who are struggling in our state or elsewhere. We know that individuals will want to donate money this holiday season and beyond to help others, but we also know that they can get burned by not doing their homework before giving to a charity.”

The report is updated on a weekly basis. Consumers can also run reports in real time and receive current registration information on commercial fundraisers.

“Those in the commercial fundraising business earn money by raising money,” McKenna said in a statement. “People should always contact charitable organizations in your community and ask how they spend donations to ensure you are truly helping those you wish to help. Never be afraid to ask how much of your donation will go to the charitable purpose. It’s your money.”

Victims of charity fraud should contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Resource Center between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays at 1-800-551-4636 or file a complaint at www.atg.wa.gov.

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