For Immediate Release - May 01, 2015

AG Healey Offers Tips to Giving Wisely to Earthquake Victims in Nepal

BOSTON — Today, Attorney General Healey offered the following guidance on giving wisely in the aftermath of the earthquake in Nepal:

“As Nepal copes with devastating disaster in the aftermath of this deadly earthquake, we encourage people to make donations to charities and relief funds that can help those who have been impacted. However, after tragedies of this nature, there are always individuals who will use the situation to perpetrate fraud.While there are many worthy organizations out there, we remind people to make informed decisions when donating to maximize the value of their contribution and ensure their money is going to reputable charities that can best help those in need in Nepal.”

To best assure that your donation will be used for its intended purpose, we offer the following suggestions:

  • If you are contributing over the Internet, make sure that the website you are visiting belongs to a legitimate and established charity, and that the website and the charity match.
  • All charities and fundraisers operating in Massachusetts are required by law to register with the AG’s Office, a requirement that also applies to businesses that advertise a portion of their sales will go to earthquake relief. Check to see if the charity is registered and filing with our Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division. Registration and filing information can be obtained online at www.mass.gov/ago/charitiesreports or by calling the division at 617-727-2200 x2101.
  • While in the immediate aftermath of a tragedy there may well be unregistered, but otherwise legitimate, charities appealing for funds in Massachusetts, donors should be aware that giving to an unregistered charity doesn’t allow them to review financial information through the AG’s website. While registration with our office does not indicate that we approve or endorse the organization, it does provide valuable information regarding how long the organization has been in existence, its financial condition and its track record of complying with state registration and filing requirements. 
  • Keep in mind that most crowdfunding sites are not charities and many typically take a percentage of your donation as a fee.
  • Never give to a charity you know nothing about. Take the time to verify the address, phone number, contact information, and review the website and written material, when possible. If you have any doubts, well established charities with experience in disaster relief or organizations established with support from government agencies are generally a good choice.
  • Check out websites such as Charitynavigator.org, Guidestar.org and Give.org, where you will find additional information to help you understand a large number of charities. Examine your options. Do not feel compelled to give to the first charity you come across.
  • Ask lots of questions. How much of the money goes to the charity and how much to a professional fundraiser? Ask if your contribution is tax deductible and what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions that might remain after the victims' needs are addressed.
  • Do not pay by cash. Pay by check, and make it out to the charity (use its full name; don't use initials), not the fundraiser. Never give your credit card number to a fundraiser over the telephone. If the fundraiser directly approaches you, ask to see identification.

Individuals with inquiries or complaints about charitable solicitations should call the Attorney General's Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at 617-727-2200 x2101, access the complaint form online, or write to:

Office of the Attorney General
Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division
One Ashburton Place
Boston, MA 02108

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