Kathleen G. Kane - Pennsylvania Office of Attorney General - Protecting Pennsylvanians

 Click for the Spanish Translation

Making Sure War-Related Donations Fall into the Right Hands

In uncertain times, Americans often look for ways to recognize the sacrifice our soldiers and their families have made. For some, this means contributing to war-related causes. My Charitable Trusts and Organizations Section has some helpful advice regarding charitable giving to ensure that your contributions reach the right hands. When considering contributing to a war-related cause, use common sense and take the following precautions:

  • Avoid giving on impulse in response to a solicitation. Bona fide organizations are receptive to answering a prospective donor's questions. Organizations that cannot or will not comply with donors' requests for additional information should be viewed with suspicion.
  • Charities and their professional fundraisers are generally required to register and file financial reports with the state?s Bureau of Charitable Organizations. Before making a donation, you can contact the Bureau to determine if an organization is properly registered and to verify representations made by the organization. They can be reached at 1-800-732-0999 or online at www.dos.state.pa.us/charities.
  • Determine what portion of contributions actually go to the war effort as opposed to housekeeping costs. Ask what percentage of donations will be paid to professional solicitors or used for other administrative costs. You can learn more about how organizations spent past donations from the Bureau of Charitable Organizations.
  • If asked to contribute to benefit a specific individual or family, ask who will be responsible for administering donations, what specific purposes they will be used for and what will happen to any should a surplus remain when the objectives of the appeal are satisfied. Avoid requests to make checks payable to the order of an individual beneficiary versus an organization or designated trustee.
  • Ask how an organization will provide the charitable services. Be cautious of newly formed organizations that may lack the infrastructure necessary to distribute their relief efforts. Keep in mind that organizations that provide direct services to beneficiaries are often preferable to those that simply forward money or supplies to other organizations.
  • Never make a donation with a credit card unless you initiated the call or contact.

Consumers with questions or complaints should contact the Office of Attorney General's Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-441-2555. If you suspect a fraudulent solicitation or believe you have been scammed, contact the OAG's Charitable Trust and Organizations Section directly at 717-783-2853 or Contact Us.