Charitable Donations - Get the Facts Before You Give

Know the Facts

Donations are a critical source of funding for many worthwhile causes. Unfortunately, there are con artists who pretend to be raising money for charity, but keep donations for their personal gain. They may contact you by mail, e-mail, telephone or in person. Once a donation has been made, there is usually nothing you can do to get it back. Before making any donation, be careful!

Ask Before you Give

  • Can I get a tax receipt?
  • What’s your charitable registration number?
  • How much of my donation goes directly to helping others? How much goes for administration and fundraising costs?
  • Can you mail me more information before I donate?

Beware of...

  • High-pressure solicitors who want you to contribute immediately.
  • Someone who calls you and thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
  • Names that sound like well-known charities. Many con artists use copycat names.
  • Mail-box address instead of street address.
  • Temporary tables in public places where you are asked for spare change.

Protect Yourself

  • Don’t give in to pressure.
  • Never give cash — make cheques payable to the charity’s full name.
  • Never give out personal information.
  • Ask for a tax receipt.
  • Check facts. Reject vague answers.

Planned Giving

Why not plan your charitable donations in advance?

Take a little time to think about how you would like to help others.

  1. Decide how much you can afford to give. Set a charity budget, and stick to it.
  2. Spread your giving out over the year.
  3. Consider those charities that mean the most to you: a favourite cause, a charity that has helped you or your loved ones, or whatever reflects your values.

By planning your charity gifts, you will support good works, feel great about your gift, and avoid the phoney charity trap.


  1. Real charities are always ready to answer questions — they have nothing to hide.
  2. Once you’ve given your money away, there is usually very little that can be done to get it back. Prevention is the key.
  3. It’s your money and you have a right to know how it will be spent.
  4. By making informed donations, you will ensure that your money is going to help real charities.

Be an informed donor. Ask questions. Check facts. Don’t be pressured. Give when you know your money will help people in need.

For more information

Ministry of Government Services
(416) 326-8800 or

Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee, Charitable Property Program
Ministry of the Attorney General
(416) 314-2800 or

To find out if a charity is registered for tax purposes:
call Canada Revenue Agency,
Charities Directorate

To file a complaint:
call your local police
or Project PhoneBusters