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It’s hard to say “no” when someone asks for a charity donation. But sometimes your money doesn’t get to those in need.

Many organizations spend a majority of donations on administrative costs. Others hire fund-raisers who keep most of the money. And con-artists sometimes create fake charities with names that sound similar to legitimate causes.


  • Be wary of overly emotional appeals that tell little of what the charity does to address a particular cause.
  • Don’t give in to high pressure tactics and never give to anyone who wants to immediately come over to pick up your money.
  • Don’t give based only on a phone call. Get all information in writing, including the names and addresses of the charity and the fund-raising company.
  • Call the charity yourself and find out if the campaign is authorized.
  • Ask for the charity’s tax-exempt and non-profit numbers.
  • Never pay cash and be careful about giving a credit card number to an unfamiliar solicitor. Make checks out to the charity and never to the solicitor.
  • Ask for the organization’s annual report. Legitimate charities will gladly send you information showing how much is spent on administration.
  • Ask if a professional fund-raising company is used and, if so, consider sending your donation directly to the charity.
  • Most charities and fund-raisers must register with the state. Contact the Missouri Attorney General’s office or the Kansas Secretary of State’s office.
  • Other sources include the Internal Revenue Service, the Federal Trade Commission, and the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance.





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