If you’ve ever said yes to one of those phone calls to write a check for veterans or emergency responders, you’ve probably gotten a lot more such calls.

If you’ve ever said yes to one of those phone calls to write a check for veterans or emergency responders, you’ve probably gotten a lot more such calls.

Sometimes the callers are persistent to the point of being rude, and they can try to make you feel cheap or unpatriotic if you’re unable or unwilling to help. You might have hung up after one of those conversations wondering how much of that was on the level.

Fortunately, the Missouri attorney general’s office keeps tabs on these things, including the reports charitable groups have to file, and makes that information available (go to http://ago.mo.gov/ and click “charity check”). Better Business Bureau guidelines suggest that 65 percent of funds raised go to charitable programs, but the attorney general’s office points out that many fall far short of that. It has compiled a list of the 15 with the lowest rates (see list above), all of them out of state and taking advantage of worthy causes: veterans, police and firefighters, kids, those stricken by disease.

The takeaway is simple: Before you write a check, check it out.