Check Your Charity Before Donating This Holiday Season

 

by Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann

 

Anyone who has spent time in Mississippi knows one thing for sure about Mississippians: they are kind, hospitable people.  When we see a need, we want to help, particularly during the holiday season.

 

This generosity is reflected in charity statistics gathered by our Office, which registers more than 3,600 charities soliciting contributions from Mississippi citizens.  

 

For calendar year 2017 to date, charities registered in Mississippi (many of which are headquartered out of State) have reported more than $96 billion in total revenue.  This includes solicited funds, grant money, and other sources of income.  More than $1.17 billion of this amount is attributable to organizations with offices in Mississippi.

 

Most of these charities are doing great work in our communities and we are thankful for their service.  However, it is prudent to exercise caution and research the charity of your choice before you donate.  Here are some tips to ensure your donations are reaching those who need them the most:

  • Avoid pressure tactics.  You do not have to give before you have all the information.
  • Watch for “same names.”  Some scam artists intentionally use names resembling those of respected organizations.
  • Be wary of telephone calls, and never give out your credit card information to a solicitor over the phone.
  • Verify mail solicitations.
  • Always get a receipt.  These are important for tracking mechanisms and tax-deduction purposes.

 

Finally, always review financial and other publicly-reported information.  Consumer organizations recommend at least 65 percent of a charitable organization’s total expenses be spent on program activities directly related to the organization’s purpose.  The Secretary of State’s annual Report on Charitable Organizations is online for your reference, and includes financial information for all of Mississippi’s registered charities, including total revenue, expenditures toward charitable purpose, and administrative expenses.

 

For more information, call the Charities Division at (601) 359-1599 or visit www.sos.ms.gov/charities.  

 

Merry Christmas to each of you and your families!

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