Attorney General Maura Healey advised Massachusetts residents to make informed decisions when donating to charities that support people affected by the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the ensuing humanitarian crisis.
“Many people across our state are watching the heartbreaking humanitarian impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine and asking how they can help people affected by the conflict,” said AG Healey. “In order to maximize the impact of your donations and avoid deceptive solicitations, it’s vital to do your research and make informed decisions on where you are giving.”
AG Healey recommends that residents take the following steps to make smart and impactful charitable contributions to support those who have been affected:
– Give to charities you know and can trust: Well-established charities with experience in the cause you are seeking to support, and organizations established with support from government agencies can be good places to donate. The AG’s Office maintains annual financial reports from charities and professional solicitors that operate in this state, which are available for public inspection online. You may also wish to review an organization’s federal Form 990 on the IRS website.
– Check the charity’s website: If you are contributing over the internet, make sure that the website you are visiting belongs to a legitimate and established charity. Be advised that most crowdfunding sites are not charities and many typically take a percentage of your donation as a fee.
– Ask lots of questions: How much of the money goes to the charity and how much to a professional fundraiser? Ask if your contribution is tax deductible and what the charity intends to do with any excess contributions that might remain after the victims’ needs are addressed.
– Beware of social media posts or emails soliciting donations to copycat organizations or fake websites: Even if a social media fundraiser seems legitimate, do your research to determine what organization you are donating to, what percentage of your donation is going to the charity, whether you will be charged a fee, or if a percentage of your
donation will be paid to the platform website.
– Never pay by cash: Pay by check or credit card and make a check out directly to the charity, not the fundraiser or any other individual. Specify, on the check and in writing whenever possible, the purpose of your donation.
Consumers with concerns about solicitations they have received should contact the AG’s Non-Profit Organizations/Public Charities Division at 617-963-2101 or access the complaint form online.
For additional tips on donating, consumers may also review AG Healey’s Give Wisely Advisory.