"Make your chairty dollar count," urges the Philanthropic Advisory Service of the Council of Better Business Bureau.Their tips:
Know your charity: Never give to a charity you know nothing about, Ask for written literature and read it. Ask questions. Is the contribution tax-deductible? Honest charities encourage this.
Find out where the money goes: Ask for much of your charity dollar goes for fund-raising, administrative and general expenses, and how much is left for the program you want to support.
Don't succumb to pressure: And don't feel you have to contribute on the spot. No legitimate organization will expect you to contribute immediately.
Demand identification: Always ask to see identification for both the solicitor and the charity -- name, address and phone number. Be suspicious of anyone who won't volunteer such information. Is the solicitor a volunteer, an employe of the group or paid? If paid, is it a flat fee or a percentage (the more you give, the more the solicitor gets)? Percentage or commission-based fund-raising violates PAC's standards.
Beware of the tear-jerker: The hard-luck tale is a favorite of the phony operator.
Don't be fooled by a convincing name: A crooked charity will often have an impressive name, or one that closely resembles the name of a respected, legitimate concern.
Refuse to commit yourself on the first phone solicitation: If the charity sounds worthwhile, ask to be spend more information.