State officials offer advice, warnings on charitable giving during holidays

OLYMPIA – Secretary of State Kim Wyman and Attorney General Bob Ferguson are reminding Washingtonians to make smart choices when giving money to charity and avoid unscrupulous solicitors during the holiday season.

The two statewide officials who deal most closely with charities also are sharing tips on how to “Give Smart.”

“People here in Washington are very generous,” Wyman said. “Many of us give money to help those in need, here or around the world. Unfortunately, scammers can victimize donors if they aren’t careful and do their homework before giving. Our goal is to help people give smart and avoid being ripped off.”

“When you give to charity, you deserve to know that your donation is going where you intend it to,” Ferguson said. “There are people out there looking to take advantage of your kindness. Before making a donation, make sure the charity is legitimate.”

Ferguson said there are several common-sense ways to avoid being scammed by those seeking donations:

  • Don’t give in to high-pressure solicitations that demand you make an instant commitment.
  • Do your research before giving.
  • Check to see if the charity is registered with the Secretary of State’s office at
  • If the organization is registered, you can review a summary of its federal tax exempt status and financial records.
  • If the organization is not registered, or you would like further information, contact the SOS Charities Program at 800-332-4483.
  • Check the charity’s rating by Better Business Bureau at

More resources for donors can be found at

Overall in 2016, charities that used commercial fundraisers received an average of 61 percent of contributions, higher than the 52 percent found in the 2015 report. As usual, the percentage that individual fundraisers retained was wide-ranging: Some fundraisers kept less than 10 percent and sent the remaining funds to their charity client(s), while other fundraisers’ fees and expenses were more than the amount raised.

Current report:

– Washington Secretary of State Office