Know your charity: Make sure you understand which organization wants your money. For example, police departments do not solicit money over the phone; police unions do. Also, some charities have names that may sound confusingly similar to another charity's name.
Ask questions: Ask how your donation will be used. Make the caller be specific. If the answer is vague, be wary. You should be satisfied that your donation will support programs you think are worthwhile. Ask where your donation will be used, especially if you prefer your donation to be used locally.
Know who you are talking to: Most telemarketing calls are made by paid solicitors, not charities. Get the name and write it down. If called for a police union, don't be fooled into thinking you are talking to a police officer.
Listen for disclosure: If it is important to you, ask the caller if he or she is being paid to make the call. Connecticut law requires paid solicitors to tell you this without your having to ask but don't count on them doing so. Be suspicious of anyone who does not volunteer this information.
Know where your donation is going: If it is important to you, ask what percentage of your donation the organization will receive. There is no bright line, above which is a good percentage and below which is bad. It is up to you to decide whether you feel comfortable with it.
Donít be pressured: Never agree over the phone to donate. Always ask for written information. But be careful, just because an organization sends you information doesn't mean you can automatically be comfortable with it. Read the material thoroughly. Does the organization clearly tell you what it does and precisely how it will spend your donation?
Avoid cash donations: Always donate by check; never with cash.
Never give out personal information: Never give out information such as your social security number or bank account numbers over the phone or Internet.
Trust your instincts: Give with your mind, as well as your heart. If you have doubts about donating to a charity, donít contribute to it. Instead, find another charity that you feel comfortable with and then make your donation.
Check to see if the organization or paid fundraiser is registered with the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.
For more information, contact the Department of Consumer Protection: