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Brochure has advice on giving wisely

December 02, 1999

The "Giving Wisely" brochure, published by the Maryland Office of the Secretary of State, offers the following advice for evaluating charitable solicitations:

Unless you're already familiar with and support an organization, don't promise to contribute when you're called on the phone.

Ask:

* What is the full name, address and phone number of the charity?

* Do you work for the charity or are you a paid fund-raiser?

* For what purpose will my contribution be used?

* Is the charity (and paid fund-raiser, if one is used) registered with the Office of the Secretary of State?

* What percent of its total income does the charity spend on its charitable purpose?

When examining a written solicitation ask:

* Is the full name, address and phone number disclosed in the material?

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* For what purpose will my contribution be used?

* Does the organization offer to send me a copy of its financial statement?

* Does the solicitation disclose that documents and information are available from the Office of the Secretary of State for the cost of copies and postage?

* Is the appeal for contributions written in a way that appeals only to my emotions rather than my intellect?

* Does the appeal sound plausible?

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