CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP)– “Giving Tuesday” is a global day of giving that encourages people to donate money to nonprofit organizations or causes that help them achieve their goals.

Many organizations have created campaigns specifically for Giving Tuesday in an effort to highlight their missions, solicit donations, and gain new supporters.

In anticipation of those solicitations and in an effort to reduce fraud, the Massachusetts Attorney General’s office is advising residents to make well-researched and informed decisions before donating to charities.  

While some charities raise funds on their own, others pay professional solicitors to seek donations from the public and are required by law to register with the AG’s Office. The AG’s Office encourages consumers who are solicited for donations to ask questions so they can understand who is contacting them and where their money would go. Specifically, consumers should find out how much of every dollar they donate will go to charity as opposed to being retained by the professional fundraiser.   

A new online portal has been created for the more than 25,000 charities and nonprofit organizations in Massachusetts to submit annual regulatory filings. Consumers can find out if an organization is registered with the state and access tax filings, financial statements and other information.

Consumers can also review the AG’s Giving Wisely Advisory  along with the AG’s  Donating Dos and Don’ts: A Guide to Charitable Giving for information including tips on what to consider before donating to a charity: 

  • Know your charity: Before you donate, verify the charity’s name, address, number, email address, and website, if available. 
  • Find out where your money will go: Ask how much of the money goes to charity and beware of statements such as “all proceeds go to charity” because terms like “proceeds” are not well-defined and could refer to net amounts after the fundraiser’s fee is deducted. 
  • Keep records: Keep any and all receipts and canceled checks, along with emails and texts, in case you have a complaint later – they also come in handy when filing your annual income tax returns, if you are eligible to deduct charitable contributions from your gross income.  
  • Don’t feel pressured: Take time to decide if you want to donate, a legitimate charity will tell you how it’s using your money to make a difference.  
  • Don’t pay by cash or debit card: Pay by check or a credit card, especially if donating online. A record of the transaction will be created if you pay by credit card, and you may be able to stop payment if you later change your mind. Credit cards also provide more security for your donation rather than a debit card. 

If you have questions or complaints about charitable solicitations call the Attorney General’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at 617-963-2101 or access the complaint form online.