Principle 27

Solicitation materials and other communications addressed to donors and the public must clearly identify the organization and be accurate and truthful.

A donor has the right to know the name of anyone soliciting contributions, the name and location of the organization that will receive the contribution, a clear description of its activities, the intended use of the funds to be raised, contacts for obtaining additional information, and whether the individual requesting the contribution is acting as a volunteer, employee of the organization, or hired solicitor. Descriptions of program activities and the financial condition of the organization must be current and accurate, and any references to past activities or events should be dated appropriately. Charitable organizations should be sure that all of their online, mobile, and print communications and any online or mobile fundraising platforms they use to process contributions include current, correct information on how anyone can contact the organization directly for more information. (A Donor Bill of Rights, created by the Association of Fundraising Professionals and endorsed by many organizations, is available at http://www.afpnet.org/.)

If an organization is not eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions, it must disclose this limitation at the time of solicitation. Similarly, a charitable organization that the IRS has recognized as eligible to receive tax-deductible contributions should clearly indicate in its solicitations how donors may obtain proof of that status. The organization is required to provide a copy of the IRS letter awarding or confirming its tax-exempt status to anyone who requests it, or it may choose to post its determination letter on its website.17 If the solicitation promises any goods or services to the donor in exchange for contributions, the materials should also clearly indicate the portion of the contribution (that is, the value of any goods or services provided) that is not tax-deductible.

Social media and online fundraising channels offer many opportunities for charitable organizations to raise funds and generate support for their work. These channels also provide easy opportunities for inappropriate or fraudulent solicitations in the name of a charitable organization. Charitable organizations should counter attempts by others to use their name and reputation, or a similar name and purpose to misdirect donors, by providing warnings on their solicitation materials and encouraging donors to email, call or visit the organization if they have any question about either the charity or a fundraising solicitation. For more information about supervision and oversight recommended for online and mobile fundraising campaigns and platforms, see Principle 31.