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Maine.gov > PFR Home > Professional Licensing > List of Professions > Charitable Solicitations > Publications
Charitable Solicitations - Publications
ANSWERS TO FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
ABOUT CHARITABLE GIVING
1. If a charity is licensed with the State, does that ensure its legitimacy?
Licensure with the State is only a threshold step that is required before a charitable organization can engage in fund-raising. It doesn't mean that the charity makes the best use of the donations it receives. This is because states (including Maine) are prohibited from limiting the amount of money that charities pay to professional solicitors to conduct fund-raising on their behalf, which often is more money than the charities get to keep. (The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled three times on this issue, deciding in each instance that such a restriction would violate the First Amendment of the Constitution.)
2. How can I be certain that I am being contacted by a legitimate charity; one that is going to use most of my money the way they say they are going to?
One way to assure that your money is used for the intended charitable purpose is to donate to a well-established charity that you are personally familiar with and whose good works can be seen in your own community. People who anticipate seeing you at the grocery store or community functions are probably less likely to take advantage of your generosity than are strangers who expect never to be confronted. Another way is to check our website to confirm that the charity is at least licensed in Maine ("Licensee Search") and consult our links to see how it spends the contributions it receives ("Links of Interest").
3. Is it OK to donate money over the telephone?
Before you do, ask for printed literature about the organization, so that you can review it at your convenience. (Any organization that is anxious for your money today will still be willing to receive it next week.) If none is available, then be wary about giving, unless the charity is a local one with which you are familiar.
4. I put my name on the Federal Trade Commission's "Do Not Call List," but I'm still getting requests for donations!
Charities are exempt from the "Telemarketing Sales Rule," so they can still call you, even if you're on the list. There's an exception to the exemption, though: If you specifically tell a charity to not contact you, then they are supposed to honor that request.
Last Updated: August 9, 2012
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