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Before You Write that Donation Check...

December 8, 2010

CHARLESTON, W. Va. - It's the season for giving and sharing – and when most people give to charity, they probably expect most of their donation money to go to the charity. West Virginia Assistant Attorney General Doug Davis says most charities are exactly what they seem to be. However, particularly if you're responding to a telemarketer or an unsolicited email message, he says you should know something more about the group you're giving to.

"Especially through emails, though the Internet, you've got to be very, very careful, because most of the charitable requests that come to you over the Internet are bogus."

Davis says the money raised in many phone solicitations ends up going largely to the telemarketing firm. He says they've seen cases like that in West Virginia.

"A fraternal order was raising money – a legitimate organization, legitimately raising money. But it turned out that about 80 percent of the money raised went to administrative costs, mostly the fund-raiser."

Before donating money, Davis recommends checking first with the Secretary of State's office to see if a charity is legitimate. Other places to check are www.CharityNavigator.org and the Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance.

Dan Heyman, Public News Service - WV