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Remembering Our Veterans - Tips for Donors

Remembering Our Veterans - Tips for Donors 

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.

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:

  • American Veterans Foundation
  • Disabled American Veterans 
  • Disabled American Vets Charitable Service Trust 
  • Disabled Veterans National Foundation 
  • Disabled Veterans National Foundation 
  • Disabled Veterans Services 
  • Help Hospitalized Veterans
  • Help the Vets
  • Michigan Paralyzed Veterans of America
  • Michigan Veterans Foundation
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America 
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America Spinal Cord Injury Education 
  • Paralyzed Veterans of America Spinal Cord Injury Education and Training Foundation

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.

Research an Organization Before Donating 

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 517-335-7571 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.

BEWARE of Bogus Charities - Warning Signs of Fraud 

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.

Don't Just Hand Over the Money - Tips for Making the Actual Donation

  • Write your donation check to the organization - never to an individual; and write out the name - don’t use initials.
  • Ask for a receipt showing how much you donated, the date, its intended use, and its status as tax deductible.
  • To avoid identity theft and fraud, use caution before giving credit card numbers over the phone or online. If you are concerned, ask the organization how it will use and safeguard your information.   For more information, see the Attorney General's Consumer Alert on identity theft
  • When donating online, check to see that you'll be using a secure web page for financial transactions - one starting with an "httpS://" (not "http://"). Even secure sites can be "spoofed" by scammers - for more information, see the Attorney General's Consumer Alert on "phishing." 

For more advice and tips for donors, visit the Attorney General's Charitable Trust website.

You may contact the Attorney General's Charitable Trust Section at:

Department of Attorney General 
Charitable Trust Section
P.O. Box 30214 
Lansing, MI 48909
Fax: 517-241-7074
Charitable Trust Website