March 10, 2009
Jefferson City, Mo. - Attorney General Chris Koster says the Check a Charity feature on his Web site recently added the1,000th charitable organization to its records, giving consumers more information and options than ever before when considering charitable donations. The Check a Charity link can be found at the Attorney General’s Web site, ago.mo.gov. Consumers without Internet access can obtain the same information by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline, 1-800-392-8222.
“Consumers face a dizzying array of options when researching the charities they’d like to help financially, and it’s overwhelming when you add in all the telemarketing calls and mail solicitations,” Koster said. “Before making a donation Missourians need to do their research, and Check a Charity is a good place to start.”
Consumers can search for a charity by name or look at an alphabetized list. Online records for each charity will show the amount of money raised in the past year and what percentage of funds was spent on program services, as opposed to administrative costs like fundraising, overhead and payroll. Koster and most consumer advocates nationwide recommend consumers give to charities that spend at least 65 percent of their funds on program services.
Most of the data comes from the charities’ IRS 990, which includes a description of the charity=s mission as well as the financial information described above. Koster says a charity’s listing on the Web site should not be seen as a “seal of approval” from the Attorney General, but rather as one piece of information to be considered when researching a donation.
The Check a Charity site was launched by former Attorney General Jay Nixon in August of 2005. Koster says his office encourages any charity not yet registered to do so. Registration forms are available for download at the Check a Charity page at the Attorney General’s Web site, ago.mo.gov.