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Media > Newsletters > Consumer Advocate > December 2011 > Holiday charitable donations: good giving

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Holiday charitable donations: good giving


While the holidays are a time to be generous, be sure your well-intentioned donations are put to good use.

To make smart charitable donations, use the Attorney General’s new Online Charitable Registration Search at to search registered charities in good standing with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The online search tool allows potential donors to verify if an organization is registered and in good standing with the Ohio Attorney General’s Office.

The office’s Charitable Law Section oversees nonprofits in Ohio to make sure that funds are used for charitable purposes, not private interests. The section recently updated the registration process for charitable trusts in Ohio to an online filing system. As organizations file online within the next year, potential donors will be able to review financial reports and see how much of every dollar donated goes to charitable work.

Many organizations solicit donations through holiday appeals or requests for year-end donations. Solicitations can come in a variety of ways: through the mail, online, by phone, or in person. As in all cases where consumers are asked to give money, Ohioans should watch for scams and make sure their contributions will be used how they intend.

Warning signs of a possible scam include:

  • The charity’s name is similar to a well-known, nationally recognized charity. 
  • Callers use high-pressure tactics to request immediate donations.  
  • The caller is hesitant or unable to answer questions. 
  • The caller offers to pick up donations immediately instead of waiting to receive them in the mail.  
  • The caller offers prizes in return for a donation.  
  • The caller requests checks to be made payable to a person instead of the charity.

Donors should never provide banking or credit card information to unexpected telephone callers. They also should ask lots of questions and ask to review written information before making a gift.

If you suspect charitable fraud or have questions about a charity or a professional solicitor, call the Attorney General’s Office at 800-282-0515, or file a complaint online.