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Consumer Sourcebook

Preface | User's Guide | Table of Contents | Print Sourcebook Adobe Acrobat Reader Symbol

Charitable Solicitations

Charities routinely contact people through the mail or over the telephone to ask for contributions. Some charities, however, are not really charities at all. Occasionally, con artists will solicit contributions or sales on behalf of fictitious or bogus "charities," or will claim to represent a real charity, but will pocket the money for themselves rather than forward it to the charity. Consumers need to be aware of these dangers, and of the agencies that regulate the charities and people who raise money for them.

The Law

The Director of Charitable Trusts administers the laws in New Hampshire that authorize the state's attorney general to regulate both charitable trusts and the people paid by charities to raise money for them. All charities doing business in New Hampshire must be registered with the Charitable Trusts Unit of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office. Once a year, charities must file reports disclosing their fund-raising activities and other important information with the Unit.

  • The law prohibits certain activities or practices including:
  • Any unfair or deceptive practices
  • Any statement or implication that money is being raised for a charity or for charitable purposes if it is not
  • The use of a name, symbol or statement closely related or similar to something used by another charitable trust, if its use would confuse or mislead the person being solicited
  • Any statement or implication that money is being raised for a charity when the charity has not given written authorization to the solicitor to do so
  • The use of any emblem, device, or printed matter belonging to a charity when the charity has not given written authorization to the solicitor to do so
  • Any statement or implication that a person (usually a celebrity or public figure) sponsors, endorses or approves of a solicitation unless that person has given the person or entity making the solicitation written consent to do so
  • Any statement or implication that registration with the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office is the State's approval of the charity or its methods
  • Any statement or implication by a paid solicitor that a charity will receive a fixed or estimated percentage of the total contribution that is greater than the solicitor has stated in forms filed with the Unit

Whenever a charity uses paid solicitors or fund raising counsel to help it raise money, the solicitor or counsel must be registered with the Charitable Trusts Unit. The solicitor or counsel must disclose certain information to the Unit in order to be registered. Also, a paid solicitor must post a $20,000 surety bond and a fund raising counsel must post a $10,000 surety bond with the Unit. This is to cover claims arising from any violation of the charitable trust laws. The requirement to use only registered solicitors and counsel does not apply to paid staff of the charity or to volunteers.

Example: John B. Goode, a paid staff member of the Trans-Gondwonaland Preservation Society, a New Hampshire trust, contacts Faith Hope to ask her to make a contribution to the society. The society must have a report on file with the Charitable Trusts Unit, but Goode does not need to be registered as a solicitor or counsel with the Charitable Trusts Unit.

Joan Dollarz, a paid solicitor to the Trans-Gondwonaland Preservation Society, a New Hampshire Trust, contacts Faith Hope to ask her to make a contribution to the society. The society must have a permit on file with the Charitable Trusts Unit, and Dollarz must be registered as a paid solicitor with the Unit.

Points To Remember

  • Get as much information as you can about a charity and its activities before making a contribution.
  • You have the right to demand, and receive, information on how much of the proceeds collected is used for the charity's work and how much goes toward administrative and fund-raising costs. Do not make contributions to a charity that either will not give you information or dismisses your request for information.

Where To Go If You Have A Problem

Whenever you have questions about a charity or a charity's fund raiser, contact the New Hampshire Charitable Trusts Unit for more information:

NH Charitable Trusts Unit
33 Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301
603-271-3591

The Better Business Bureau also has information on New Hampshire charities:

Better Business Bureau
25 Hall Street, Suite 102
Concord, NH 03301
603-224-1991, 603-228-3789, or 603-228-3844

Click on "file a complaint" to file a complaint about a charity. Click on "tips for business and consumers" then click on "Resource Library" for articles on charitable giving.

The Better Business Bureau also maintains a data base on charities:

BBB Wise Giving Alliance
4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800
Arlington VA 22203
1-703-276-0100

For information on charities not registered in New Hampshire, contact the National Charities Information Bureau:

National Charities Information Bureau

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New Hampshire Department of Justice | 33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658