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Attorney General Jason R. Ravnsborg

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Charitable Giving Consumer Alert


(Pierre) – Attorney General Larry Long warns South Dakota consumers to be wise when donating to a charitable organization. 

“Everyone receives countless solicitations by telephone and mail asking for donations," said Long. “Consumers need to ask the questions that will allow them to distinguish between legitimate and unscrupulous charities.”

Consider the following tips to ensure that your donation dollars benefit the organizations you want to help.

  • Check credibility of the charity with the South Dakota Consumer Protection Division. 
  • Ask for written information on the charity, including name, address and telephone number. 
  • Ask for identification of the paid solicitor who is calling on behalf of the charity. 
  • Find out what percentage of your donation actually goes toward charitable purposes. Some solicitors keep up to 90% of your donation and forward only 10% to the charity. 
  • Look closely at the charity’s name. Some phony charities use names that closely resemble legitimate charities. 
  • No legitimate organization will pressure you to give immediately and you have the right to say no. 
  • Don’t give cash to any charity. Cash can be lost or stolen.

Telemarketers calling to solicit charitable contributions are not covered by the newly created “do not call” registry, but if you make a request to a specific organization that they not call you, they are required to honor your request. If they subsequently call you again, they may be subject to a fine.

If you believe that an organization may not be operating for charitable purposes or would like to check out the legitimacy of an organization contact the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Division at 800-300-1986 or