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Donor Questions

  • The word "legitimate" can have several meanings in this context. It may simply mean a charity is properly incorporated, or that it is registered with the Attorney General, has a tax exemption from the IRS, spends its funds on its charitable purpose, or that it is effective in accomplishing its charitable goals.
    To learn if a charity or public safety organization is authorized to solicit in Michigan, visit the charity search website.  However, inclusion on AG charity search does not mean that the Charitable Trust Section has verified the accuracy of any information provided. Some charities may be exempt from registration requirements and will not be listed on the website. If you are solicited by a charity that is not listed, call the Charitable Trust Section at 517-335-7571. 

    You may search for charities using one or more factors such as name, purpose, or geographic area. Reports provide contact information, the organization's purpose statement, and financial information including assets, revenue, and expenditures for fundraising, administration, and the charitable program.

  • Read the brochure "Giving Wisely to Charity."

  • You may search a list of registered charities on our website for registration status and financial and expenditure information. You may also contact the Charitable Trust Section at 517-335-7571.

  • You are probably being called by a professional fundraiser. Professional fundraisers are for-profit individuals or companies that enter into a contract with a charity to conduct a phone or mail campaign. While charities usually pay a substantial amount of the donation to the professional fundraiser, some charities believe that this is the best or only way to solicit for their cause.

    Professional fundraisers can retain any amount of the solicited funds consistent with the contract with the charity. Some professional fundraisers will retain 85-90% or more of the funds. The U. S. Supreme Court has ruled that states cannot regulate the amount fundraisers receive. Professional fundraisers are prohibited from misleading you about the amount of donations they retain.

    Professional fundraisers soliciting in Michigan should identify themselves when they call and must be licensed and bonded. You can check a professional fundraiser's license status online or by contacting the Charitable Trust Section at 517-335-7571.

  • Police and firefighter groups that solicit in Michigan are required to register with the Attorney General. Most of the police and firefighter groups are not charities and donations are not tax deductible. These public safety groups often hire professional fundraisers who may take up to 90% of your contribution as their fee. To learn more about these groups and their solicitations, see the Attorney General's Consumer Alert, Police and Fire Solicitations - What You Should Know. If you have questions, complaints, or would like financial information about a public safety organization, call the Charitable Trust Section at 800-769-4515. Consult the Public Safety Solicitation Act for legal requirements.

  • Calls on behalf of political organizations and charities are not covered by the FTC's Do Not Call list. However, if a third-party telemarketer is calling on behalf of a charity, you may request to not receive any more calls from, or on behalf of, that specific charity. For more information, see the Federal Trade Commission's Consumer Alert Q&A: The National Do Not Call Registry.

  • Send your correspondence or submit an online complaint to:

    Department of Attorney General
    Charitable Trust Section
    P.O. Box 30214
    Lansing, MI 48909
    Online complaint form
  • That depends on the nature of the complaint. Usually, a copy of the complaint is sent to the charitable organization or fundraiser and they are asked to respond. A copy of the response is sent to the complainant. Complaints are a matter of public record, so don't include a name, address, phone number, email address, or other identifying information if you wish to remain anonymous.