RI among nation’s least charitable states

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Rhode Island is one of the least charititable states in the nation, according to a new study.

The Ocean State ranked 49th overall in a comparison of states’ charitable giving that was conducted by personal finance website WalletHub.

The ranking is based on several factors, including volunteer rate and share of income donated. Rhode Island was last on the list for “volunteer and service,” and 31st for “charitable giving.”

Massachusetts ranked 35th on the list, while Utah earned top honors as the country’s most charitable state.

According to the National Philanthropic Trust, Americans gave more than $389 billion to charities in 2016, and about 63 million Americans volunteered their time.

Choosing a charity

Consumer Guide: Charitable Giving »

There are more than 1.5 million charitable organizations in the U.S., according to the National Philanthropic Trust. The competition for your charitable donations is already tight – before you factor in scam artists who may try to take advantage of your generosity.

“Phone calls, phishing emails, and fake websites are the primary method of collection, but some scammers are bold enough to solicit door to door or arrange for in home pick up of donated goods,” explained Shirley Rooker, president of Call For Action.

Charity scam red flags, according to Call for Action:

  • The person tells you how urgent the need is and offers to send someone to pick up your donation
  • Your request for material about the charity is either ignored or the person hangs up on you
  • There is no information about how the money is going to be used
  • The request is for cash donations only
  • You are asked to send a donation by wire transfer or a third party payment web site

Questions to ask:

  • Is the caller is a 3rd party fundraiser? If so what percentage of the donation goes to the charity?
  • How much of the donation will be used for administrative costs
  • Is the organization tax exempt?
  • Is this a look-alike? Scammers may use names that are similar to well-known charities

“While you may be eager to help people in need, take the time to make sure your donation will really help, not just line the pockets of a crook. It’s up to each of us to make sure our donations are used wisely,” Rooker said.

It’s also important to keep in mind that even if crowdfunding sites are hosting fundraisers to benefit legitimate causes, they are rarely tax deductible, according to the Better Business Bureau.

Susan Campbell (scampbell@wpri.com) is the Call 12 for Action and Target 12 consumer investigator for WPRI 12 and Fox Providence. Follow her on Twitter and on Facebook.