It's always wise to be careful when giving money to groups, but especially in the wake of Hurricane Sandy solicitations.

Secretary of the Commonwealth Carol Aichele is advising Pennsylvanians to ask questions about the organization before making a contribution.

“Pennsylvanians are generous and want to do all they can to help the brave men and women who have defended our country, particularly around Veterans’ Day,’’ Aichele said. “In addition, Pennsylvania residents want to help our neighbors in New York and New Jersey who are suffering from the impact of the recent storm.”

“While most charities are reputable and deliver most of the money they solicit to the causes they support, unfortunately some are not,” said Aichele, whose department oversees charitable organizations.

If you're not familiar with the organization asking for a donation, ask questions:

  • What percentage of the money raised is used for fund-raising expenses?
  • What percentage of the money raised is used to cover administrative costs?
  • What percentage of the money raised goes to the charitable cause

"You can also ask for a phone number to call, a website to visit, or literature for more information,” Aichele added. “If someone soliciting donations is unwilling to give you this information, it should be a red flag about donating money to that group.”

In addition to requesting information from an individual soliciting a donation, people can visit the Department of State website at www.dos.state.pa.us, and click on “Charities,” then “Information for Consumers,” or call 1-800-732-0999 for the Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations hotline to find out if a charity is registered with the state.