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Donating to a charitable group? Make sure it's legit

Posted April 28, 2015
Updated April 29, 2015

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— Heather Black has her eye on your charitable dollars.

As someone who helps oversee licensing for charitable solicitation in the Secretary of State’s office, part of Black’s role is to ensure that donated dollars are going to legit organizations.

“Our website is up 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and the public can always look up and access any charity that may be asking them for money,” she said. “If you can find no history about something, then you need to question if it's the right place for you to give.”

Websites such as charitynavigator.org and guidestar.org provide tips for giving as well as ratings for various charities.

Black says those who plan to donate, especially as earthquake relief efforts in Nepal continue, should ask themselves one particular question.

“Do they have the capacity and the resources to really help in this situation,” she said.

She mentioned the American Red Cross as an example of such an organization.

“Transportation is always a challenge, infrastructure, warehousing, the ability to move supplies and materials,” Barry Porter, with the Red Cross, said. “So the American Red Cross already has that structure.”

While fundraising has become more modern through social media and other means, Black said those methods are concerning for charity regulators.

One thing to look out for is if someone switches from raising money for a personal cause to soliciting funds for a larger charity, which Black says is a red flag.

“Our statutes still talk about telegraph and telegram and we've got Twitter and GoFundMe and Facebook now,” she said. “So this is one of those areas where it's really hard for the law to keep up with the technology out there.”

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  • Paul Donovan Apr 29, 2015
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    Good advice. Beware of the Clinton Foundation. It is reported that only 15 cents of every dollar donated actually goes to charity. During the same time it has operated the Clintons have become very wealthy. Coincidence ?