It’s the giving season – that time of year when you’re likely being solicited by a variety of causes and charities encouraging you to donate. Whether it’s a phone call during dinner, an online advertisement or a flashy flier in your mailbox, many organizations (even ours!) are making their case for why they need your support. But not all of them are being honest in their claims. 

We’re collaborating with Florida’s Tampa Bay Times on a new story looking at charities that use professional fundraising companies, such as telemarketers and direct mail firms, to make such solicitations. We want to hear your experience to give us a better idea of how different folks approach charitable giving.

One thing we’re looking for: Any examples of unusual solicitations you’ve received this holiday season. For instance, some charities promise cars or other large prizes if you donate. Others include gifts or a dollar bill in their pitch, hoping you’ll donate in return. If you have any such examples handy, you can email a photo to me at, tweet us a picture of the mailing at @CIRonline or mail the solicitation to our office at 2130 Center St., Suite 103, Berkeley, CA 94704.

In addition, we want to hear your insights on charitable giving to help inform our reporting. Take a few minutes to fill out the form below and tell us your experience. Everything you share within the Public Insight Network is confidential unless you give us explicit permission to publish it. 

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Cole Goins is the director of community engagement for Reveal, where he cultivates partnerships that blend in-depth journalism and creative public engagement. He has built and supported distribution networks, spearheaded arts-based initiatives such as the Off/Page Project, led social media and audience strategy, and facilitated statewide media collaborations. He was a senior fellow in the 2015 USC Annenberg Health Journalism Fellowships, mentoring five journalists on approaches to community engagement. Previously, Goins was the engagement editor at the Center for Public Integrity, where he led audience development initiatives and multimedia features for award-winning investigative projects. He earned a degree in journalism from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where he worked as music director for WXYC, the student-run radio station. He is based in Reveal's Emeryville, California, office.