Charitable Solicitations in MichiganYour Guide To Informed Giving
State of Michigan
Charitable Trust Section
Consumer Protection Division
Department of Attorney General
The Gift of Giving...
In Michigan, approximately 2,900 charities are licensed to solicit donations from you, the public. During the past year, those charities took in millions of dollars in donations from you and your neighbors.
While many charities use your money wisely, others may not deserve your generosity. Asking questions about the nature and activities of the organization is the only way you can be sure that your money will go to support the worthwhile services that many charities provide.
While small volunteer organizations are exempt from licensure, most charities, professional fund raisers, and public safety groups who solicit in Michigan must be licensed or registered with the Department of Attorney General. They must also file annual reports with our office. That information is available to you.
All licensed organizations are issued a Michigan charitable solicitations (MICS) number. The solicitor should be able to provide you with this number or explain why the charity is exempt.
I hope the suggestions provided in this brochure will help you be a generous and wise donor.
Charitable giving is a process which involves knowing your rights and
responsibilities as a donor.
Help is available to you through the Department of Attorney General. We can be reached at (517) 373-1152.
Always ask questions. It is easier to obtain additional information when you know the charitys address, phone number and MICS number.
Request written material-- do not make a pledge over the telephone unless you have all the facts.
If you are not 100% sure you want to donate, get more information before you pledge or contribute.
Take time to think before you decide; it is the best way to guarantee that your charity dollars will be spent in the manner you expect.
You are the key to the charitys success and to the swindlers failure. Dont just give to charity, give wisely.
Public Safety Groups
Contrary to what many people believe, most public safety groups are not charities. They are often social groups or unions whose membership consists of current or former firefighters and law enforcement personnel. These groups may use little or none of your money for charitable purposes. In order for your donation to be tax deductible, the receiving organization must meet specific IRS requirements. You may wish to ask the solicitor if your donation will be deductible.
Even though many public safety groups are not charitable, you may still wish to support these organizations whose members serve within the community, state, and nation. You should contact the public safety organizations in your area to find out more information.
Further, most soliciting public safety organizations are required to file with the Department of Attorney General. Feel free to direct your public safety inquiries to our hot line at: 1-800-769-4515. Please note that this line is only for public safety questions. Your call cannot be forwarded from this number. For more information about other charitable organizations, please contact our office at (517) 373-1152.
Your refusal to donate to these groups will not affect your access to police, fire, or emergency protection.
Professional Fund Raiser
Many charities employ professional fund raising organizations (PFRs) to handle their large scale mailings, telephone campaigns and other solicitations. These PFRs are in business for profit. Under some contracts, the PFR takes as much as 90% of the donations it solicits from the public.
When you are contacted by solicitors, always ask if you are speaking with a volunteer or a PFR. If dealing with a paid professional fund raiser, find out how much of your money will go to the fund raiser and how much to the charity.
Always keep in mind that the PFR and the paid solicitor making the call are separate from the charity and may not be the best source of information. Their goal is to raise money. They may not have reliable information about the work of the charity, how your money will be used, or whether it is a tax deductible donation.
It is also a good idea to get the name and address of both the professional fund raiser and the charity so that you can verify information and ask questions directly from those most qualified to answer.
If you have any doubts about a charity or PFR, do not hesitate to call our office. Finding out all you can about a charity before you donate can help you avoid unnecessary problems.
When you receive a solicitation call, it is best if you dont pledge before
you have all the facts. Even if the charity sounds worthwhile, you should request
written information. Legitimate organizations should respect your right to be
an informed donor.
Always take the time you need to think things over. After all, you wouldnt trust a stranger to invest your life savings, so why should you pledge to a charity you know nothing about?
Remember, a charity that needs your help today will still need it tomorrow.
Who is soliciting for the charity-- volunteers or professional fund raisers?
What does the charity do? What is its purpose?
Why should you give to this charity? Is your donation tax deductible?
Where is the charity located? Request a name, address, and telephone number.
When did the charity begin operating? Has it been effective?
How much of your money will go to the program you wish to support? How much will go for fund raising or administrative costs?
Facts You Should Know
If a charity mails you a gift, you are not obligated to return the gift
or to donate.
Some groups use names similar to well known charities as a strategy to receive more donations.
When you donate, your name may be placed on mailing lists issued to other
charities. You have a right, however, to have it removed upon request.
Beware of solicitors who use high pressure tactics or who ask you to commit immediately.
Beware of cash only requests.
Beware of solicitors who will not provide you with their name, mailing address, telephone number, and/or charitable solicitations license number.
Still Have Questions?
If you require additional assistance, please feel free to write or call us at:
Michigan Charitable Trust Section
P.O. Box 30214
Lansing, MI 48909