Tips on How to Know Your Charity

February 18, 2002

Los Angeles: In light of recent terrorists events, an increased number of charities have emerged, advising of their intent to help victims. Unfortunately, not all charities are legitimate. The State of California is home to more than 72,000 charitable organizations. This represents about one-eighth of all the charities in the United States. The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) realizes that trying to determine which charitable organizations are worthy of your financial consideration can be difficult. The following tips are designed to assist you in determining what may or may not be a valid charity and how to avoid being swindled.

Do not give cash to strangers.
Take the time to learn about the charitable organization you wish to support.
Be assertive on the telephone with telephone solicitors.
Make all donations by check to the organization or use employee-withholding programs through work.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK, research your organizations, and follow up with local city agencies that provide ordinances for these organizations. Do not expect that every organization has all the proper paperwork on file.
Read and understand everything before you sign.
Organizations soliciting within the City of Los Angeles are required to obtain an information card from the Los Angeles Police Commission prior to soliciting contributions. You can check to see if the charity is a valid charity prior to making a donation by calling the Los Angeles Police Commission’s, Charitable Services Section, at 213-978-1144.
The Los Angeles Police Department does not solicit or endorse solicitation of funds for any type of police-related charity either through telephone solicitations or through door to door activities.

Los Angeles Chief of Police Bernard C. Parks stated that, "With the increased need among those in our community, it is important now more than ever, to make sure your charitable dollars reach the intended people. The LAPD is committed to helping the community in its effort to help others who are less fortunate."
There are many more strategies outlined in the LAPD’s Know Your Charity Crime Prevention Circular. For more information, or to obtain copies of Crime Prevention Circulars, contact the Community Liaison/Crime Prevention Unit at 213-485-3134. Additionally, you may check the validity of a charity on the California Attorney General’s Web site at, or the web site for the Better Business Bureau at
This media advisory was prepared by Public Information Officer Guillermo Campos, Media Relations Section, 213-485-3586.