Storefront (or) Table Top Charities - Where does your money go?

Every now and then, most of us have encountered people who set up outside grocery stores and collect money for charity. How do you know where the money goes? Unfortunately, in many cases, you don't.

Any day outside any grocery or convenience store, especially during the holidays, you'll find a donation table with streams of shoppers donating cash to the cause. The solicitors collect what seems like hundreds of dollars in a very short period of time.

People SHOULD question where the money goes! However, if you see documentation such as a Certificate of Incorporation (see sample) or specific correspondence (see sample) from the Secretary of State's Office in Olympia, don't consider the documentation as an endorsement or a basis of legitimacy.

Give smart, and do your homework! The GiveSmart program lets you check out charities online and offers tips for wise giving. There are many resources available to you, but start with the Charities online registration look-up to ensure the organization has registered with the Secretary of State.

Bottom line: Give generously, but GiveSmart. If you care about how your money is used when you donate, take the time to check it out. Ask the charity for the organization's contact information so you can check them out independently and make an informed donation. And if you have concerns about solicitors, contact the Charities Program at 800-332-4483 to speak with a Charities Customer Service Representative.