NASHVILLE, Tenn. – As Tennesseans prepare to make end of year and holiday season charitable contributions, Secretary of State Tre Hargett cautions donors to be wary of scams.
"This time of year, as we enjoy the holidays and look to the New Year, many Tennesseans are planning to support their community through charitable giving," said Secretary Hargett. “It’s important to be diligent to make sure a charitable organization is legitimate before writing a check or donating online and we have resources that can help."
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/charitable. The Wise Giving Tips highlighted in the video are:
- If a nonprofit asks you for a contribution, check to see if it's registered online 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 own 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.
Any charity that raises over $50,000 a year must register with the State of Tennessee. 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.