For Immediate Release - September 07, 2011

AG Coakley Offers Information for Supporters of Veterans and Public Safety Charitable Organizations

BOSTON - With the upcoming tenth anniversary of the September 11th tragedy and Veterans Day approaching, Attorney General Martha Coakley reminds consumers and retailers to give wisely to charities. Many veterans, police, and fire charities will be increasing their solicitation activities during this time. Consumers who are not familiar with a particular charity are encouraged to familiarize themselves with an organization before making contributions.

Most charities that solicit donations during this time are reputable and worthy of financial support from the public. The Attorney General's Office has received calls about charities that have utilized alleged questionable tactics, including the use of civilians dressed in military uniforms soliciting funds. The AG's office also reminds consumers that they have the right to ask how much of their donation will go to the charitable purpose of the organization.

"Now more than ever, we want to give generously to organizations which support our first responders and veterans," AG Coakley said. "Most charitable organizations are reputable and provide valuable resources, but there are a few charities which may not spend your donations well. We encourage all people to give, but give wisely."

"Massachusetts leads the nation in serving Veterans and military families due to the strong partnerships that exists between federal, state, and local governments, as well as the Commonwealth's diverse not-for-profit organizations. These dedicated and hard-working organizations are a cornerstone of our shared mission to ensure that Massachusetts Veterans and their families have access to a multitude of services, including housing and employment opportunities, clothing, health care, counseling and transportation," said Coleman Nee, Secretary, Department of Veterans Services. "Unfortunately, there have been reports of organizations using very emotional and patriotic issues to raise funds in misleading ways. To be safe, we always encourage the public to take care in making any donation and to report any concerns about a charitable solicitation to Attorney General Coakley's office."

Some tips and suggestions for savvy charitable giving include:

General Tips for Consumers:

  • Check it out. When solicited for a donation, don't be afraid to verify the name, address, or phone number of the charity; to ask about how and where the charitable funds will be used; or to ask whether the donation is tax deductible as a charitable contribution.
  • Ask questions. You have the right to find out where your contribution will go. You can ask how much will go to the charity, and how much goes to fundraising, administrative and general expenses.
  • Take your time. You should never feel pressured to give immediately; you can always take time to research the charity.
  • Think twice about making a contribution to a charity that has not registered with the Attorney General's Office or is not current on its filings. You can access this information on our website, or by calling 617-963-2315. Compliance or registration does not imply an endorsement by the office, but it does provide a mechanism by which the charity must account to the public for the receipt and use of its donations.
  • Do a quick check online with independent organizations such as www.charitynavigator.org, www.guidestar.org, or the Better Business Bureau's www.give.org, which provide information about how effective a charity is, what percentage of funds raised go to administrative expenses and fundraising, and whether complaints have been made about the charity.

Tips for Giving to Veterans, Police, and Fire Organizations:

  • With veterans, police, and fire organizations, remember that not all solicitors in uniform are necessarily veterans or first responders.
  • Ask whether the donation will be used in the local area, and ask for specific information on how donations will be used to help area veterans, police, or firefighters.

Tips for Retailers:

  • Protect your customers and do not allow a charity that has not registered with the Attorney General's Office, or is not current on its filings, to solicit donations on your property. You can easily access this information on our website, or by calling (617) 963-2315.
  • Do some quick research before authorizing a charity to solicit on your property. There are independent organizations which can provide retailers information about how effective a charity is, what percentage of funds raised go to administrative expenses and fundraising, and whether complaints have been made about the charity , such as www.charitynavigator.org, www.guidestar.org, or the Better Business Bureau's www.give.org.

PDF Version of the Consumer Tips pdf format of    Tips for Giving to Veteran's Groups

Any consumer or retailer with concerns or complaints about a charity may file a complaint pdf format of    Charitable Organization Complaint Form  file size 1MB with the Attorney General's Office, or contact the Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division of the Attorney General's Office at (617) 963-2315.

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