Check Out Those Charities Before You Give

Last night I was sitting at home, drinking Modelos when I hear a knock at the door. I open the door to see a bearded, disheveled looking man who immediately launches into a spiel about the Republicans, Cheney, the military-industrial complex, yadda yadda. Nothing I haven’t heard a million times already. Sure, this kind of talk can get people emotional, but as far as reasoned discourse…far from it. Not that I disagree, just that it was Friday night and I did not want to talk about this.

Anyways, the deal was he was soliciting donations for a “charity” that is seeking to change all this, and get us out of Iraq and all the other good stuff that we all want but can’t ever seem to get.

Now I don’t know if this guy was legit or not at the time so I told him, “Well, my policy is that I do not give money to charities on the spot, but if you leave me some information then I can look it over and come to a decision later. I like to know who I am supporting and want to make sure that this would be the best use of my charity money.”

Well, he seemed to not want to do it that way, and insisted that in order for things to work out for him and his organization, he needed to get the donations at the door. At that point I told him that I had to go.

Anyways, the point of this rambling anecdote. Search the charities you are about to give to using the Charity Search from the State of California to make sure that the people you are giving to are legit. I looked up the guy’s charity, and it turns out that it was not.

Anyways, since a lot of people are out there looking for money during the holiday season, its best to do your homework and give on your terms. Also, there are some good guidelines on charitable giving from the Office of the Attorney General. There are a lot of fake charities out there, so don’t get got.

4 Replies to “Check Out Those Charities Before You Give”

  1. another place you can go to is guidestar.org it is a great place to see where the money actually goes.

    Many of the IRS 990s are up so you can even see how much the executive diretors of the orgnization are making, top paid employees and how much they are making , and a detailed amount of how much they bring in and how much is actually spent on the programs and their participants.

  2. When it comes to donating to big organizations (like cops, firefighters, political parties) a good rule of thumb is that you should seek them out, rather than the other way around.

  3. God bless you – one and all, for the important and timely reminder. A good deal of my telephone time at the office this month will be spent with the more generous and unsuspecting among us who are hoodwinked by con-artists who pose as legitimate Fire Service charities.

    As Darleene mentions, there are reasons to suspect those who approach you and seem in urgent need of donations.

    As an aside, never in the Los Angeles Fire Department’s 120 year history have our members gone door-to-door or made cold-calls in pursuit of monetary donations. There are sound-alike and nebulous ‘charities’ that may be doing so, but none officially on behalf of the LAFD or its associated non-profit entities.

    Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

    Brian Humphrey
    Firefighter/Specialist
    Public Service Officer
    Los Angeles Fire Department

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