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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Friday, December 2, 2016

Charity Mailing Addresses Explained

With the giving season upon us, donors will be receiving a multitude of appeal letters from various organizations. Donors using our website will often note that the mailing address that they find on these appeals and the physical address that we list for that same organization are different. This can cause confusion and often leads a donor to question whether or not the appeal letter is genuine. However, this is a perfectly valid and common practice for nonprofit organizations.

There are a variety of reasons that an organization’s mailing address would differ from their physical address, but the most common reason that this occurs is that the organization may be using a professional gift processing center. These firms are contracted by the charity to efficiently and safely process your donation. The use of gift processing centers can help take the burden of processing donations off of the organization’s often small development team, which in turn allows for faster and cheaper donation processing. In addition, these centers provide security measures that would be impossible in most nonprofit offices. These measures can include banning employees from bringing in bags, not allowing trash cans and using extensive security cameras to monitor the staff. This is all so that donors can rest assured that their donation will be processed effectively and will get to the organization that it was intended for.

Additionally, organizations with a multitude of branches or chapters may have a designated donation processing office of their own. Donation requests by various office locations may simply be directing their donations toward their more centralized development offices, where specialized employees of the organization are better equipped to process and document your donation.

When available, we include an organization’s donation mailing address alongside their physical address in the Charity Contact Info box, located in the upper left corner of a rated organization’s listing. However, not having a listed mailing address does not necessarily mean that the organization does not utilize one.


If you are concerned about a solicitation you receive for any reason, we encourage you to contact the organizations directly. You can do this by either visiting their website’s “Contact Us” page, or by using the contact information that we provide for rated organizations at charitynavigator.org.

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