Friday, November 29, 2013

‘Tis the Season for Charitable Giving

The holidays tend to bring out the best in all of us.  Perhaps it is our small size or our sense of community, but the generosity of Rhode Islanders in helping out those they know and those they don’t is something we can be proud of. 

At the Office of Attorney General, the staff gets into the holiday giving spirit each year by adopting families from the community and participating in Kids, Cops & Christmas to brighten the holidays for children and families in need. I am very proud of the staff for their generous spirit, not just at Christmas but throughout the year.  

It’s important to think not just with our hearts, but also our heads this time of year. The holiday season tends to be when people give most to charities. The best way to donate is to do your research: don’t be afraid to ask questions about the organization’s track record and how your money will be spent. The generosity of many Rhode Islanders enables others to have a happy holiday season, but it is important to double check the cause before handing over a contribution.

Here are a few tips for you to consider before making a charitable donation this holiday season.
  • Before you make a donation, research the charity and/or non-profit organization.
    • Verify the legitimacy of the organization. Charities soliciting donations in the State of Rhode Island are required to be registered with the Department of Business Regulation at
    • Several websites, including, and provide helpful information regarding numerous charities. These websites can be a useful starting point for consumers looking to research companies prior to making a donation.
  • Find out how your donation will be used and what percentage of the funds will be used for programming and how much will be spent on administrative costs.
  • Ask for a copy of the charity’s financial report. Reputable charities will be happy to provide this information.
  • Be careful of charities with names that sound impressive or resemble those of other organizations. Some scam artists use names similar to reputable organizations to confuse donors.
  • Do not pay bills or invoices you have received from charities unless you know you have already made a commitment to support them.
  • Never send cash! Always contribute by check or credit card. Donate directly to the charity.
  • Remember to ask for a receipt and a statement that the contribution is tax deductible.
  • If solicited in person, ask to see identification for both the solicitor and the charity.
In Rhode Island, charitable organizations are regulated by the Department of Business Regulation (DBR).  If you want to give your charitable dollars to a local organization, check with DBR to ensure they are a properly register charity.  There are a number of other online resources you can check to ensure your charitable donation is being used as expected including,, and