November 29, 1999
The report is released annually at the beginning of the holiday season, the time of year when charitable solicitations--and donations--are most intense. The report summarizes the activities of commerical fundraisers--businesses hired by charitable organizations to solicit donations in Washington State. By law, commercial fundraisers must register with the Secretary of State and disclose certain financial information, including how much of the money raised actually goes to the client charity.
It is not illegal for fundraisers to keep the majority or a large percentage of the dollars donated. And Munro noted that it's up to consumers to make their own judgements about whether they are getting good value for their charitable contributions.
Consumers should resist impulse giving, ask key questions, and verify the answers with the Secretary of State's Charities Program before making a contribution. Those questions are:
They also point out that many firefighting and law enforcement charities use commerical fundraisers. It is important to remember that when you receive a telephone solicitation from one of these groups, you are often talking to a paid solicitor, not an actual firefighter or police officer.
To check on a commercial fundraiser or a charity, call the Secretary of State's toll-free Charities Information Hotline at 1-800-332-4483 (TDD 1-888-658-1485), or e-mail a request to firstname.lastname@example.org. The Secretary of State's website at www.secstate.wa.gov offers an online lookup of charities registrations, consumer tips, and statutes governing charitable solicitations.
To file a complaint about a charitable solicitation, you should send an e-mail to the Attorney General at email@example.com, or call 1-800-551-4636.