The Attorney General provides Consumer Alerts to inform the public of unfair, misleading, or deceptive business practices, and to provide information and guidance on other issues of concern. Consumer Alerts are not legal advice, legal authority, or a binding legal opinion from the Department of Attorney General.
Michigan citizens routinely show their support for our nation’s veterans by generously donating to veterans’ charities. Sadly, there are some who exploit this generosity by using inefficient fundraising tactics that result in pennies on the dollar for your intended charity. Others are even more brazen, creating outright shams that simply include the term “military” or “veteran” in their solicitation requests, but in fact do nothing to benefit veterans and are mere devices for private gain. For a recent example here in Michigan, please see this press release.
The words "Veteran" or "Veterans" appear in the corporate or assumed names of approximately 50 different charities registered with the Attorney General's office to solicit donations in Michigan. The names of these organizations can be confusingly similar, for example:
In other words, just because an organization uses the word “veteran” does not mean that you should support it or that it’s the same organization you have supported in the past. Thus, before donating, you should educate yourself.
There are some steps you can take. In the case of veterans' organizations, you may wish to contact a local veterans' group to see which charities have actually provided services to their members.
Investigate. Any reputable organization that solicits you in person or by phone will allow you time to consider before you contribute. Don't be pressured into donating! And be suspicious of organizations that insist you've made a previous pledge or donation—especially if you don't remember doing so.
Donors can also search the Attorney General's database of registered charities.This website will tell you where the organization is located, how long it has been established, and how much of past donations have been used for fundraising, administrative, and managerial expenses instead of charitable program services. Some veterans' organizations will not appear on this website because they are exempt from registering with the Attorney General under Michigan law. If you have a question regarding an organization not listed in the Attorney General’s database, you may contact the Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section by phone (517-373-1152) or email. You can also search for organizations at independent websites such as National Center for Charitable Statistics and GuideStar.
Below are some tips for donating to any charity.
Bogus bills - You receive phony invoices for pledges you’ve never made.
Evasive, vague or unresponsive answers - Telemarketers that don’t answer your questions.
Words in a charity's name - Scammers may use a name very similar to that of a well-known charity.
Adamant telemarketers - Aggressive telemarketers may pressure you to make an immediate donation.
Refusal to send information - A charity or telemarketer that won’t send you written material regarding the charity’s activities is not worth supporting.
Emotional appeals - Don’t be guilted into an immediate donation.
For more advice and tips for donors, visit the Attorney General's Charities home page.