It seems like if charities come to the door and you give them money, you just end up with more charities at your door. The same happens with charities that solicit by phone. They obviously share phone lists. We even had a charity call us and tell us we had donated to them before, and there was no way we had.

I'm also not sure how to actually validate that a person calling or coming to your door actually works for the charity they're claiming to work for. How can you know? Is the laminated ID card enough? It seems like it would be pretty easy to fake those.

What do you do when these charities contact you and start pouring on the guilt?

  • 1
    "Shooting yourself in the foot" is a little extreme. I mean, regardless of whether you donate money to a real charity or scam, you are the same off either way. Of course, you'd want to donate to a real charity so it isn't for naught.
    – JohnFx
    Feb 28 '10 at 17:29
  • Charity begins at home. Jul 27 '21 at 15:38

I know in the UK at least, 99% of the time even legitimate collectors don't work directly for the charity. They work for independent for-profit companies. The companies collect a large comission (around £50-£70) for every direct debit signup.

The guy that knocks on your door will see very little of it. Have a look at this: http://blogs.mirror.co.uk/investigations/2005/08/just-6-for-eight-days-work-for.html

The bags you get through your door for clothing donations are run on a similar basis - the clothes and profit go to a private company, which makes a donation to the charity out of their profits. Sometimes as little as 0.1% of your donation will go the charity.

Always go direct to your chosen charity.


If you are interested, simply collect their contact information and donate by mail or in the office.

You can't vet a door to door or phone call charity; not quickly enough anyway. A real charity would be happy for your donation anytime, not just when a volunteer happens to catch you at home on the weekend.

It is simply to ripe for scams in my opinion.

The big exception is when a kid comes to my door with a food item. I try to buy one just to make the kid feel successful. Even if they never turn in the money at least I got a $2 chocolate bar.


Hanging up is easy, whether it be charities or telemarketers:

"Sorry. I'm giving to other charities and am not interested in donating at this time. Bye. No, seriously, I know there are starving puppies, bye." *hang up*

You're probably trying to be polite and inoffensive by not interrupting and listening to the pitch, but you're not doing them a favor by listening for longer if you're not interested in paying up.

Assuaging your guilt is another matter I can't address here.


I have a short list of charities that I support, so it's relatively easy for me to say "I'm sorry, all my donations go to _."

I do all my donations online, as well, so keeping receipts is very easy.


Having worked for both a non-profit and a charity, it is my recommendation that you always donate directly to the charity, and not through any form of solicitation. Most of the telephone calls that you receive are likely from telemarketing companies. It has been my experience (through exploring them as a means of fundraising) that the charity will likely only see about 10% - 25% of the funds raised in their name!! I imagine that a number of door to door solicitations are also done by professional fundraisers.

WRT sharing of lists, it is likely not the charities that share the lists, but the companies that they hire to solicit for them. I always ask to be put on their "do not call" list

To verify that a person collecting at your door is from the charity that they represent, can you pledge a donation, buying time to look into them? Or write a cheque in the name of the charity if it is known to you? I doubt that many scammers would go to the trouble of trying to open a bank account in the charity's name.

I like YMCbuzz's point about the online donation - I use CanadaHelps.org. They are very upfront about the small (3%) fee that they charge, and the rest of the money goes to the charity. I have used them working for a charity, so I can vouch for how much is sent to the charity.


Yes. Donating to name-brand charities or politicians will result in you geting solicitied for more donations -- charities sell your info and donation habits.

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