Know Your Charity During the Holidays – Don’t Let Solicitors Prey on Your Giving Spirit

November 21, 2002

"Know Your Charity During the Holidays – Don’t Let Solicitors Prey on Your Giving Spirit"

Los Angeles: During the holiday season, charitable donations increase significantly and while most charitable solicitations represent legitimate, deserving organizations, some do not. These dubious "charities," and for-profit companies representing them, could be put out of business if the public was armed with information on how to recognize a bogus solicitation. The Los Angeles Police Commission, Charitable Services Section is reminding everyone to know your charity before giving this holiday season.
Whether you are asked for a donation by phone, mail or in person, there is a way to know if you are dealing with a legitimate charity within the City of Los Angeles. Even if you know or have heard of the charity, always ask to see the current Information Card from the Los Angeles Police Commission, Charitable Services Section. If you are asked for a donation over the phone, ask to have the Information Card sent to you or call Charitable Services Section at 213-978-1144.
Do not give a donation if:

The solicitor cannot provide an Information Card
The solicitor insists on coming to your home to pick up the donation
The solicitor cannot tell you exactly what percentage of your donation will go to the charity

Be especially wary of solicitors claiming to represent law enforcement agencies. Be reminded that the Los Angeles Police Department does not solicit for funds.
The latest statistics from the California Attorney General reveal that an average of 48.2% of charitable donations made actually goes to the charities. The larger portion of the money goes to solicitation expenses and fundraiser profits. An entire list of all California charities and their charitable versus profit ratios is listed on the California Attorney General’s Web site,
Another solicitation pitch that is popular during the holidays is the donation of an automobile, which results in a tax deduction if given before the end of the year. Unfortunately, the percentage that the actual charity receives of the value of the car varies greatly. The majority of the value is absorbed by for-profit facilitators.
While dubious charitable solicitations are a constant problem, it is especially poignant during the holidays. Don’t become a victim because of your giving nature. Know your charity before giving!