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While a charity review is a must, it is also a good idea to review information about a charity from the state in which the organization is based. Typically the Office of the Attorney General is the venue for State oversight of charities. From New York to Alaska, offices that oversee charities on the state level also monitor registering and licensing. In New York State, all 501 c(3) organizations must be registered. Potential donors and foundations can go on line or phone to inquire whether or not the charity is current with financial reporting or if there are any violations of State laws or regulations.
Practitioners in fund raising such as fund raising consultants, telemarketers and grant writers must all register and be approved by the state as a provider. Charities who hire fundraisers who are not registered with the State are considered to be out of compliance.
If you would like to learn more about the process in your state, call or tap into the Internet site for your Attorney General. To take a look at registration documents for fund raising professionals who work with charities are in New York visit www.org.state.ny.us.charities/charities.html.
Armed with what is required on the state level, donors, charities or fund raising professionals become increasingly aware of the role they play in stewarding donor dollars and charitable assets.
Bonus Note: If you have ever wondered how those telemarketing firms that finally get through to you to ask you for support for your college, police benevolent organization, heart association or cancer society—take a look at “Pennies from Heaven” the annual Telemarketing by Professional Fund raiser review that the New York State Attorney General's Office publishes.