Many people have contacted our office to ask what they can
do to assist Colorado wildfire victims. This guide will help you raise funds
legally for or donate wisely to those victims.
Under Colorado law, most charities that solicit
contributions in Colorado are required to register
with our office.  The
law also makes two important distinctions:
- Volunteers who have written authorization from a
charity to raise funds on the charity’s behalf are exempt from the registration
- Any money destined for a specific individual or
family is considered a private gift, not a charitable donation. These gifts are
not covered by the Colorado Charitable Solicitations Act. As a result, the law
does not require the person raising the gift or the person or family receiving
the gift to register. These gifts are not tax-deductible.
Before giving money, you should ask
if a bank account has been set up for the individual or family and verify with
the bank that the account exists. You should also confirm that a need for the
If you choose to give, do not give
cash. Write a check that is payable to the fund, not to an individual.
If you wish to start a nonprofit to help raise funds, our
office has also created a checklist of issues to consider when forming a business or
nonprofit. Before starting a nonprofit, you may want to seek
guidance from an attorney, tax, or business consultant.
For additional assistance, you may want to contact a regional
nonprofit resource center or an association, like the Colorado Nonprofit Association, the Center for Nonprofit Excellence, or
Community Resource Center. These
organizations offer educational materials and advice on nonprofits, including
volunteering for relief efforts and forming a 501(c)(3) charitable organization.
Finally, the IRS has resources on its website to help people
involved in providing disaster
relief through charities.
Wise Giving Tips
- Visit www.checkthecharity.com
or our website (www.sos.state.co.us) to make sure a
charity soliciting contributions is registered with the state.
- If solicited for contributions by
phone, ask for the solicitor’s registration number and the registration
number of the charity he or she is representing.
- Ask your tax advisor or the IRS if
your donation will be tax deductible. The fact that a charity has a tax
identification number does not necessarily mean your contribution is
- Ask anyone asking for money how much
or what percentage of the donation will go to the charity.
- Be wary if the charity does not want
to provide information about its programs and finances. Reputable
charities will gladly provide the information requested.
- Watch out for charities with names
that sound similar to well-known organizations. Sometimes these
sound-alike names are simply intended to confuse donors.
- Do not make cash donations. Donate
with a check made payable to the charity.
- If solicited in person, ask to see
identification for both the solicitor and the charity.
- Beware of unsolicited e-mail. Following
a natural disaster, it is not unusual to hear reports of e-ails that claim
to be solicitations from the Red Cross. The emails have links embedded in
them that will take you to a fake Red Cross website. Further, such
unsolicited email may spread computer viruses. Do not respond to any
email soliciting donations from any organization. Instead, go directly to
the organization’s website or call to make donations.
- If you believe you have been
solicited by a fraudulent charity, please file a complaint with us or the Attorney General via www.checkthecharity.com.
- If you feel uncomfortable donating,
simply say no.
Section 6-16-104(6), C.R.S. (2011).