Charities routinely contact people through the mail or over the telephone to ask for contributions. Some charities, however, are not really charities at all. Occasionally, con artists will solicit contributions or sales on behalf of fictitious or bogus "charities," or will claim to represent a real charity, but will pocket the money for themselves rather than forward it to the charity. Consumers need to be aware of these dangers, and of the agencies that regulate the charities and people who raise money for them.
The Director of Charitable Trusts administers the laws in New Hampshire that authorize the state's attorney general to regulate both charitable trusts and the people paid by charities to raise money for them. All charities doing business in New Hampshire must be registered with the Charitable Trusts Unit of the New Hampshire Attorney General's Office. Once a year, charities must file reports disclosing their fund-raising activities and other important information with the Unit.
Whenever a charity uses paid solicitors or fund raising counsel to help it raise money, the solicitor or counsel must be registered with the Charitable Trusts Unit. The solicitor or counsel must disclose certain information to the Unit in order to be registered. Also, a paid solicitor must post a $20,000 surety bond and a fund raising counsel must post a $10,000 surety bond with the Unit. This is to cover claims arising from any violation of the charitable trust laws. The requirement to use only registered solicitors and counsel does not apply to paid staff of the charity or to volunteers.
Example: John B. Goode, a paid staff member of the Trans-Gondwonaland Preservation Society, a New Hampshire trust, contacts Faith Hope to ask her to make a contribution to the society. The society must have a report on file with the Charitable Trusts Unit, but Goode does not need to be registered as a solicitor or counsel with the Charitable Trusts Unit.
Joan Dollarz, a paid solicitor to the Trans-Gondwonaland Preservation Society, a New Hampshire Trust, contacts Faith Hope to ask her to make a contribution to the society. The society must have a permit on file with the Charitable Trusts Unit, and Dollarz must be registered as a paid solicitor with the Unit.
Whenever you have questions about a charity or a charity's fund raiser, contact the New Hampshire Charitable Trusts Unit for more information:
NH Charitable Trusts Unit
Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street
Concord, NH 03301
The Better Business Bureau also has information on New Hampshire charities:
Better Business Bureau
48 Pleasant Street
Concord, NH 03301
603-224-1991, 603-228-3789, or 603-228-3844
Click on "file a complaint" to file a complaint about a charity. Click on "tips for business and consumers" then click on "Resource Library" for articles on charitable giving.
The Better Business Bureau also maintains a data base on charities:
BBB Wise Giving Alliance
4200 Wilson Blvd., Suite 800
Arlington VA 22203
For information on charities not registered in New Hampshire, contact the National Charities Information Bureau:
Portable Document Format (.pdf). Visit nh.gov for a list of free .pdf readers for a variety of operating systems.
New Hampshire Department of Justice
33 Capitol Street | Concord, NH | 03301