Q: My elderly mother receives a lot of phone
calls from professional solicitors asking her to make donations to charities
all across the country. Some are groups we have never heard of before. Her
number is on the National Do Not Call Registry. How can I get these phone calls
people are surprised to learn that the Do Not Call Registry does not apply to
charitable fundraising. Registering your home telephone number with the
National Do Not Call Registry will not prevent charities from contacting you.
However, charities must keep a record of people who have asked not to be
contacted again, so you can ask not to be contacted in the future. Charities
also must honor Do Not Call requests sent in writing.
Q: Does Ohio law regulate professional
solicitors who are hired to raise money for charitable organizations?
law requires such solicitors to identify themselves clearly as professional
solicitors and state the name of their firm as well as the specific charity
they’re representing at the beginning of each call.
Q: If I ask to be placed on a Do Not Call
list during a call from a solicitor hired by a charitable organization, will my
request be honored?
during the call, you ask to be placed on a Do Not Call list, your request must
be honored whether the caller is a staff member, volunteer or solicitor for
that charity. Given the number and the variety of lists being worked, removal
of your name might take a few weeks. Solicitors must relay your request to the
charity and then the charity is responsible for sharing the information with
any other solicitors it might hire.
Q: Can I ask to have my name removed from
more than one charity at the same time?
A: No; there
is no way to remove your name from the lists of multiple charities
simultaneously. In other words, there is no legal requirement for a
professional solicitor to remove your name from the lists of all the charities
he or she may represent.
Q: Are professional solicitors regulated by
A: Yes. Professional
solicitors and charities asking for donations must meet a number of legal
requirements and, of course, are prohibited from misrepresenting themselves or
their intentions. For example, some solicitors may try to intimidate the
elderly by using aggressive tactics, falsely claiming the consumer pledged or
gave a gift previously, or using names that sound similar to those of other
Q: Are there things I should be aware of
when dealing with donation requests?
be wary of sharing bank, credit card or other personal information with an
unknown or uninvited caller. Scammers are always looking for opportunities to
steal financial data or even identities.
Also, it’s also a good idea to ask
questions or request written information before donating. If a solicitor calls
claiming to represent a particular charity, find out how much of your donation
the charity will actually receive. Contact the charity directly and confirm
that a fund-raising campaign is underway. See if family members or friends are
familiar with the charity’s work and whether it’s a solid, reputable
organization. Review online evaluations of charities from watchdog groups at
sites such as www.charitynavigator.org,
www.charitywatch.org, and www.bbb.org/us/charity/. You can also
see a charity’s 990 return filed annually with the Internal Revenue Service at www.guidestar.org.
Finally, it’s wise to prepare a giving
plan that identifies the causes and charities you choose to support. By
approaching charitable giving in a thoughtful, organized fashion, you’ll be
prepared to make decisions in line with your priorities when you receive
requests for donations.
Q: What can I do if I have concerns about
charitable organization solicitations?
A: If you
have concerns about charitable solicitations, please contact the Ohio Attorney
General’s Office or file a complaint by calling 800-282-0512 or by visiting www.OhioAttorneyGeneral.gov.
This “Law You Can Use” column was provided by the
Ohio State Bar Association. It was prepared by Beth Short, who is part of the
Ohio Attorney General’s Charitable Law Section. Articles appearing in this
column are intended to provide broad, general information about the law. Before
applying this information to a specific legal problem, readers are urged to
seek advice from an attorney.
Labels: charitable organizations, charity, Do Not Call, solicitations, solicitors