As Arkansans reflect on their gratitude over the holiday season, many will look for ways to give back. Consumers should give wisely to make sure that their donations will help those in need, not scammers.
Arkansas ranks ninth in the United States for charitable donations according to the Chronicle of Philanthropy. Arkansans on average donate 6.3 percent of their discretionary income to charity, with an estimated annual median contribution of $3,554 per person per year.
Attorney General Dustin McDaniel issued this consumer alert today to remind consumers to donate carefully this holiday season.
“The people of Arkansas are always generous, especially during the holidays,” McDaniel said. “However, it’s important for Arkansans to remember that scammers will find every opportunity to take advantage of our benevolence. Consumers should be cautious of donating to organizations that give a small percentage of their donation to the causes they claim to support and especially those that are absolute scams.”
State law requires most charitable and professional fundraisers to register with the Attorney General’s Office before soliciting money from Arkansas consumers. Registered groups must provide information about how dollars raised through fundraising are used. Visit www.ArkansasAG.gov to verify whether a charity is registered with the State.
For more information about a specific charity, contact the Charities Division of McDaniel’s office at (800) 482-8982. Charities that are registered with the State are required to report the percentage of money collected that is used to pay for programming, total administrative costs, and disclose whether the charity utilized professional fundraisers.
McDaniel offered the following tips to consumers planning on making charitable donations:
- Do your research. Learn about an organization before donating to make sure your donation is being used as promised. Find additional information about charitable organizations at www.guidestar.org.
- Give thoughtfully. Legitimate charities will provide you with information you need about their organization, and will not resort to high-pressure tactics to obtain your donation.
- Do not donate in cash. Be sure to donate by credit card or check for security and tax purposes.
- Check with the charitable organization before giving based on appeals made via email, telephone or from door-to-door solicitors.
- Be aware of look-alike charities. Scam artists may try to create false charities with titles resembling those of legitimate organizations.
For more information about responsible charitable giving, visit the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division website at www.GotYourBackArkansas.org or call the Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 482-8982 or (501) 682-2341.