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DCA Urges You to Investigate Before You Donate

The State Division of Consumer Affairs reports that veterans charities made its Top Ten List of the most inquired-about charities during the first half of 2012.

Kevork Djansezian, Getty Images

Now, while that’s not necessarily a bad thing, Acting DCA Commissioner Eric Kanefsky says it’s part of the information they provide through an online database about major charities that are legally required to register in New Jersey.

Kanefsky says in the Top Ten List you’ll notice that many of the charities actually have similar names but if you look closely … not all are equal.

“We’re trying to draw light that there are differences between these charities; namely, how much money they end up giving to the actual cause. In the case of Veterans, Veterans of our wars.”

He says as part of its ongoing ‘Investigate Before You Donate Campaign’ they urge you to go into their online database to see how efficiently the charities you’re considering donating to spends the dollars it receives. Kanefsky says they point consumers to ‘The Better Business Bureau’s Standards for Charity Accountability that states that a charity should dedicate at least 65 percent of its expenses toward program activities.

“While we can’t tell a charity how much money that they should be giving to the cause, we certainly publicize what they are giving and set forth the guidelines by which we think they should be assessed.”

Now while Kanefsky says he isn’t concerned about brand new charities that may need to use the bulk of its donations to establish themselves. He says, “however, there are charities that have been out there for years upon years where the majority the money goes solely to fundraising efforts and management expenses and salaries and we do think that that’s something consumers have a right to know.”

As part of the Investigate Before You Donate campaign, the DCA encourages New Jersey Consumers to Find out whether the charity is registered in New Jersey or is exempt from having to register. They also advise Consumers to find out how much the charity spent during recent fiscal years on program costs, management cost and fundraising. Lastly, learn about the charity’s stated mission.

Get more information from the DCA’s webpage, call the Division’s Charities Hotline at 973-504-6215 or get information from the Division’s new “New Jersey Charity Search” smartphone app, available for download.

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