In this season of giving, Secretary of State Tre Hargett cautions Tennesseans to be wary of scams when making charitable donations.
“Tennesseans are generous and support each other in times of need, especially around the holidays,” said Secretary Hargett. “I encourage everyone to be diligent in making sure a charitable organization is legitimate before writing a check or donating online.”
To help Tennesseans avoid charity fraud and maximize their donation’s impact, the Secretary of State’s Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming created a Wise Giving Tips video available on sos.tn.gov.
The Wise Giving Tips are:
- If a nonprofit asks you for a contribution, make sure it is legitimate by checking to see if it’s registered with the state at sos.tn.gov/charitable or by calling 615-741-2555.
- Take your time. Resist pressure to give on the spot.
- Ask questions. If an organization has a specific mission, ask how and who will benefit from your donation.
- If you are asked for a donation via text or email, verify the request is directly from the charity or nonprofit.
- Do your research and don’t assume a social media or blog recommendation has been approved by the nonprofit.
- If you give through an app or website, ask if it is going directly to the organization.
- Avoid giving cash. Always ask for a receipt and if your contribution is tax deductible.
- Pay close attention to the name of the nonprofit organization, as there are many with similar names.
- Don’t forget there are many ways to give, such as volunteering your time.
- If a paid fundraiser asks you for a donation, ask how much is kept by the fundraiser and how much goes to the nonprofit.
Charitable organizations operating in Tennessee that raise over $50,000 a year are required to register with the State of Tennessee and file annual financial reports. To see if a charity is registered, visit sos.tn.gov/charitable or call 615-741-2555. If a charity isn’t registered, that could raise a red flag for potential donors.
The Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and GuideStar are also useful resources for information about charitable organizations. By taking the time to research before giving, donors could prevent their hard-earned dollars from falling into the wrong hands.
Tennesseans are encouraged to report false, misleading or deceptive fundraising activity to the Division of Charitable Solicitations and Gaming at 615-741-2555.