TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Via press release from the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services:
Charitable organizations registered in Florida received nearly $79 billion in contributions last year, and in advance of Giving Tuesday, which is on Nov. 29, Commissioner of Agriculture Adam H. Putnam is offering tips to help Floridians make the most of their charitable contributions. The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services helps Floridians maximize their donations by providing detailed information on charities registered in Florida. Visit the Check-A-Charity tool or call 1-800-HELP-FLA.
“During the holiday season, many generous Floridians contribute their hard-earned money to support important causes. Before giving, I encourage you to do your homework and make the most of your donation,” said Commissioner Adam H. Putnam.
The department encourages Floridians to take the following simple steps when preparing to make a charitable contribution:
1. Check-A-Charity Before Donating
Use the department’s Check-A-Charity tool to view a charity's financial information and current registration status, or call 1-800-HELP-FLA (435-7352). Also, ask the charity or organization why it is asking for donations and what the contribution will go toward. Be aware that many telephone appeals for funds are made by paid solicitors, not volunteers.
2. Watch out for Scams
Scammers take advantage of people by pretending to be a real charity to commit fraud. Frequently, bogus charities will exploit a recent natural disaster or tragedy, promising to use the donations to aid victims. It also is important not to judge a charity solely on its name, as many organizations may use names similar to well-known charities and organizations.
3. Keep Good Records
Always obtain and save a printed copy of a donation or a receipt showing the amount of the contribution. Not all organizations soliciting in the name of benevolence are true charities eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions. If this is important to you, ask about the organization's federal and state eligibility for receiving tax deductible donations. Typically, such donations fall under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).
For more information about individual charities, check out the Check-A-Charity tool by copying and pasting this into your web browser: https://csapp.800helpfla.com/CSPublicApp/CheckACharity/CheckACharity.aspx
There's also a link to this at the bottom of the story if you're reading it on a phone or tablet, or out to the side if you're reading this on a laptop/desktop. Look for "Related Links."
All charities soliciting within Florida, excluding religious, educational, political and governmental agencies, are required to register and file financial information with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. If a professional solicitor is requesting a donation on behalf of a charity, the solicitor also must be registered with the department and should be able to provide their registration number.
The Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services is the state’s clearinghouse for consumer complaints, protection and information. The call center is staffed with trained analysts who can respond to questions about programs and regulations under the department’s purview, provide information on a wide variety of topics or direct callers to the appropriate government agency.
For more information about the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit FreshFromFlorida.com.