‘Tis the season when many charities ramp up their fundraising efforts in order to capitalize on the spirit of giving. But, how do you know if the organization you’re giving to is legitimate?

“Unfortunately, not all charitable organizations are completely forthcoming with potential donors about how their donation dollars will be spent,” said Tom Calcagni, Director of the New Jersey Division of Consumer Affairs. “So, you have to be careful. First, beware if you’re offered a prize or a gift in return for your donation. You also should never give credit card information and always avoid being pressured into making an immediate donation.”

“Before giving to any charitable organization, take time to learn about that organization and the charitable mission it serves,” said Calcagni. “Any reputable organization is going to urge you to do your homework.”

The New Jersey Department of Consumer Affairs is publishing information reported by the charities. The list is drawn from consumers’ calls to the Division’s Charities Registration Hotline. The full list is available online.

The Better Business Bureau’s Standards for Charity Accountability state that a charity should dedicate at least 65 percent of its expenses toward program activities and no more than 35 percent toward fund raising.