How To Tell Legitimate Soliciting Charities From Scams Outside of Supermarkets



Not the particular Ralphs in my neighborhood, but I have encountered many a pushy solicitor at the one I go to. Photo courtesy of




I’m sure everyone has encountered them.

You need some bread, chicken, juice, veggies, or whatever, so you get going to your local Ralphs, or Pavilions, or Sprouts, or Trader Joe’s.

You get what you need, go through the checkout line, and as you cross the automatic doors someone sitting at some table says something along the lines of:

“Would you donate to (whatever charity they’re part of) to help the (whoever they’re supposedly helping)…”

And sometimes in the parking lot, as you’re putting your stuff in your car, some teenage boy – they’re almost always teenage boys – comes up to you with a box of candy, chips, and other junk food and does the pushy salesman thing; one time, after I had told a young man I how I don’t buy candy, he went on this spiel about how I could buy it for my friends and how he was raising money for some field trip.

I know it sounds harsh, and I have nothing against anyone trying to raise money to do some good, but…

Even though I have donated to some of those companies, I get irritated by most of the folks trying to get me to buy or donate to whatever charity they’re working for, because when I’m shopping for food I’m trying to handle my business and go, and I don’t have time for anything else.

I’m just being honest.

There are two big exceptions to this personal sentiment, however:




I can’t count how many boxes of cookies I have bought from this organization over the years. Photo courtesy of



1. The Girl Scouts

It should go without saying that I love their cookies, namely the Tagalongs (the chocolate ones with the peanut butter inside) and the new S’mores. Plus I’ve been buying them for over 25 years; I remember as an elementary school P.E. teacher girls arguing over who will get to sell me their cookies.

2. The Salvation Army

Every year between Thanksgiving and New Year’s, whenever I see that red bucket and those bell-ringers, I’ve always put in at least a dollar; I think I donated a total of around $10 this past holiday season.


The thing that these organizations have in common, that have led me to donating to them on a regular basis for years?

THEY HAVE BEEN AROUND FOR AT LEAST A HUNDRED YEARS; 105 in the Girl Scouts’ case (they started in 1912), and as for the Salvation Army, they first organized in 1865!

I once joked with one of those bell ringers that when the Salvation Army began, the Civil War had just ended and the 13th Amendment, which officially ended slavery, had just passed!


Here’s my point:

I can’t speak for anyone else, but for me a charitable organization needs to have been around for a significant length of time –  70 years at minimum – and be well-known in America and abroad, to the tune of commercials, major websites, and the like.

The Girl Scouts, the Salvation Army, Goodwill Industries, and numerous other charities fit those requirements quite well.


There are many other charities that don’t.

I always get very suspicious if whoever is bothering me for a purchase or a donation has no website, like those kids selling candy in my supermarket’s parking lot when I asked them for the name of theirs, or if their website’s a shoddy one, or if they have only been around for a few years.

One particular charity that was VERY aggressive and pushy in my area for a couple of years – I won’t mention their name – not only had a questionable website when I checked them out,

Not only had bad things said about them when I looked them up in the Better Business Bureau,

But they were apparently shut down as I noticed that they hadn’t been outside of my supermarket, or any others in my area, for a while.

That is a clear sign of a scam.



An organization that’s definitely NOT a scam, one which I’m always glad to give my money to. Photo courtesy of



Another scam that I read about on my town’s Facebook page was when teens would go door to door asking for donations for their high school sports teams, which the high school had said is not their policy.

One guy posted that he would always ask the name of their coach, and the kid would never know.

That’s when you know it’s a scam.

I would also ask what their win-loss record was, and then go on my Kindle to verify that.


Summing Up:

Always check out any charity that you’ve never heard of  who approaches you – often in an aggressive fashion – and asks for money.

Ask them for their website, address and phone numbers.

If they don’t have a site, or if their address is a P.O. box rather than a real brick and mortar building, or if their phone number is not in service,

Or if they are really pushy in their soliciting,

Then one word describes them:


The Bottom Line:  Be careful who you give your hard-earned money to.



Another supermarket chain where I have seen pushy solicitors who are apparent scammers; there’s one of these around the corner from where I live. Photo courtesy of











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