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Consumers' Frequently Asked Questions About Charities

How can I find out if a charity is registered?

To find out if a charity is registered in Connecticut, please go to www.ct.gov/dcp.  From the department’s home page, click on “Verify a License” to arrive at the State of Connecticut eLicensing Website.  Click on “Look up a license” and then use the drop down screen at “License Type” to arrive at CHR.  Enter the business name or first part of the business name and click “search”. All registered active organizations are listed, including those that have claimed an exemption from having to register.  A charity should be on file with DCP before it solicits contributions in the state. 

Is "X" charity legitimate? 

We can advise you whether a charity is registered and has complied with registration laws in Connecticut.  If it is registered, it may also be using a “paid solicitor”, which are also required to be registered with the department.  Solicitation Notices are also required to be filed with the department concerning solicitation campaigns and such notices state the “Guaranteed Minimum Percentage” which will be provided to the charity by the paid solicitor.   This Guarantee is not necessarily an indicator of what monies actually go to the charity, because most solicitation contracts do not include fee arrangements based on percentages.  If you become aware of a solicitation by a charity which does not appear to be registered by DCP, please contact the department.

How do I get an annual report for a non-profit/charity?  

Annual reports for hospitals are available from OHCA (Office of Health Care Access), www.ct.gov/ohca.  If you are seeking an organization’s IRS Form 990, it is often found on www.guidestar.orgor www.foundationcenter.org

How much of my donation actually goes to the charity?  How much does the charity spend on its charitable purpose?

Most charities must file an IRS form 990 with IRS each year.  The reports are available at www.guidestar.org.  The IRS form 990 reports the amount the charity spent on its programs, on fundraising and on administrative expenses.  It also reports the salaries of officers and directors of the charity.  The report provides a detailed description of what the charity did to accomplish its purpose.  Finally, the 990 reports the amount and sources of the charity’s income, as well as the amount of its assets and liabilities at the beginning and end of the year. 

How do I get these solicitation calls to stop? 

Charities are not subject to the Federal "do not call" registry, however, paid solicitors are subject to the Federal Telemarketing Sales Rule, which provides that the paid solicitor must maintain a charity specific "do not call list".  The caller can simply say, "thank you for calling, but please place me on your do not call list".  This applies only to the particular charity that the paid solicitor was calling about.  You may get calls from the same paid solicitor on behalf of other charities.  If they continue to call after an appropriate period of wait time, they are in violation of the federal law.

I want to donate my car/boat/(whatever). Can you tell me if this car donation group I found on the internet is legitimate? 

The organization in which you are interested may be registered in Connecticut, but if it doesn’t actively solicit in this state, it would not need to be, and may be an organization located online. There are some car donation groups that may have claimed a religious exemption, so there are no financial filings on record with DCP or on Guidestar.  Please go to the IRS website for important information, www.irs.gov under Gifts and Charitable Contributions. Also, be aware that most charities have subcontracted with a third party towing company, and it is this company that actually takes the car and either sells it OR auctions it off.  In some instances, the charity receives a flat fee per car donation, not the value or sales proceeds of the car you donate.  Check with the particular charity to which you intend to donate to learn the details of their car donation program.