With a large number of non profit organizations in El Paso County, residents are confronted with requests for donations to needy causes on a daily basis. Before you give anything to anyone, do some research into the non profit organization. DON'T just assume the organization does good things for people because you hear the name frequently, or that their cause seems worthwhile.
First of all, is the organization a 501(c)(3) incorporated in the State of Colorado? Use the internet--enter the name of the organization into the search engine. Then, check out the site of the Colorado State Attorney General. You can access the organization's Articles of Incorporation, Board of Directors and status (whether it's in good standing or not) with the State - free of charge. Find out the value of the organization's assets and its annual income. Do you think their assets are extraordinary? Remember, they are asking YOU for donations.
Become familiar with non profit terminology. Find out what the organization REALLY does with its funding. Does it have paid employees? If so, how many and what are their salaries? What percentage of the donations is spent on administration? Does it ask for donations in the form of real estate or valuable assets? Does it promise to look after your grandmother or elderly parent? Do they want a conservatorship or guardianship to do so? Do they want full disclosure of an elderly person's insurance and assets before they'll help?
Under federal law, a non profit organization is required to provide a financial report upon request from any individual. Call the organization and ask for one. Don't assume that the report will divulge what you really want to know, however. Expenses can be hidden if the organization doesn't want the public to know.
If you find a discrepancy, call the District Attorney. Tell your family, friends and neighbors!REMEMBER--It's YOUR money and property, and it's YOUR business to know what it's going to be used for if you generously contribute anything to a non profit organization!