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Giving to Charity

We should be proud that so many people in our state give so much of their time and money to help others.  North Carolinians contribute billions of dollars to charity each year, and volunteer countless hours in their communities.
 
We want to encourage you to give to those in need, but we want to make sure your contributions are used as you intend them to be. Learn how to avoid charity scams that may play on your sympathies, and how to check out charities.
 
The best way to make sure your donations are used wisely is to do your homework before you give.
 
  • Decide who you want to give to. Instead of responding to solicitations to make a donation, especially from telemarketers who may keep as much as 90 percent of the money they collect, decide which charities you want to support and contact them directly.

  • Give to charities you know. If you’ve helped out as a volunteer, seen the organization’s work in your community or checked out its track record, you’ll have a better sense of how it operates and how your donation will help. 


  • Find out whether or not charities are licensed.  Many charities that solicit in our state are required by law to register with the N.C. Secretary of State. You can call that office toll free at (888) 830‑4989 or check out a charity or fundraiser on its website. 

  • Ask for written information.  If a charity asks you for a donation, ask for the charity’s name, address and telephone number. A legitimate charity will give you materials that tell you the charity’s mission and what your donation will help them do.
     
  • Learn how your money will be used.  Many charities hire professional fundraisers, private companies that sometimes keep a large percentage of the money raised for themselves.  Ask how much of your donation will go to the worthy cause instead of to pay for fundraising, then check out the charity's financial statement from the NC Secretary of State's Office, or visit www.guidestar.org.
 
  • Know the law. There’s no legal minimum amount that a professional fundraiser has to give to the charity on whose behalf it raises money, or that a charity has to use for actual good works as opposed to other expenses. But professional fundraisers do have to report the percentage of money they raise that goes to charity, and charities have to report what they spend on charitable works versus expenses on their 990 tax form. You can get this information from the NC Secretary of State’s Charitable Solicitation Licensing Division

  • Check to see if your donation is tax deductible. Not all contributions to non‑profits are tax deductible. Some gifts that appear to be for charity actually benefit for-profit companies.  Check it out before you decide to give.

  • Pay by credit card or check. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by credit card.  If you pay by check, make it out to the charity itself, not the fundraiser. 

  • Protect your personal information.  Don’t share personal financial information by email, social network or text message.  If you donate online, use a secure website.  Look for a lock icon and a web address that starts with “https”.
 
We Can Help
If you have a complaint about a charitable solicitation or believe that you were misled when you made a contribution, contact us for help or call toll free within North Carolina at 1-877-5-NO-SCAM.