CO Sec of State Offers Donation Advice

Gessler promotes wise charitable giving-Highlights Top Ten list for wise giving

DENVER– During the holiday season when many Coloradans will donate to charities, Secretary of State Scott Gessler appealed to residents to give wisely.

“Coloradans are generous,” Gessler said. “But to maximize your donations, it’s important to first check the charity, to make sure your money will go to your intended cause.”

In Colorado, charitable organizations and paid solicitors that ask for contributions must file registration documents with the Secretary of State’s Office. The Secretary of State’s web site shares charity financials through a searchable database at Residents can use the system to learn about an organization’s charitable purposes, see who governs the charity and review the charity’s financial information. The information enables potential donors to determine at a glance how much a charity is spending on its core programs in comparison to its spending on administration and fundraising.

Telephone solicitations peak during the holiday season, so be aware that there are laws that provide consumers protection against unwanted telephone calls. While it is true that the Colorado No-Call List contains an exception that allows telephone solicitations by charitable organizations, the charity must be registered with the Secretary of State for that exception to apply.

Gessler highlighted his office’s Top Ten tips for wise giving. For more information, visit

Ask for the registration number of the solicitor and the charity.

Check the charity’s disclosure and financial statements on the Secretary of State’s website.

Ask the solicitor how much of the donation will go to the charity.

Call the charity to verify claims that local groups or individuals will benefit from your donation and make sure the charity is aware of the solicitation and has authorized the use of its name.

Be wary if the charity fails to provide information about finances upon request. Reputable charities will gladly provide the information requested.

Watch out for charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. These sound-alike names are often intended to confuse.

Do not pay in cash – donate by check made payable to the charity.

If solicited in person, ask to see the solicitor’s and charity’s identification.

Beware of unsolicited e-mail. Instead, go directly to the organization’s website or call to make donations.

Trust your instincts – and check your records if you have any doubt about whether you’ve previously made a pledge or a contribution. Solicitors may try to trick you by thanking you for a pledge you didn’t make. If you feel uncomfortable, simply say no.

If you’ve followed these tips and still suspect a scam, contact the Secretary of State’s Office at 303-894-2200 or the Colorado Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-222-444.

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