Safe charitable giving is a combination of research and due diligence.
Safe charitable giving is important to protecting your financial safety and making sure your funds actually go to those in need.
Unfortunately in the world we live in, there are a lot of people with bad intentions. These people prey on those that mean well and ultimately ruin a good thing.
The Internet has made charitable giving easier than ever. With a few simple clicks of a button, you can support someone on the other side of the world who truly needs your help.
However this has also given more opportunities for fake charities arise.
The first questions you should be asking about a charity is “How do I know if an organization is legitimate?” and “How do I report a possible fraudulent nonprofit?”
Before proceeding with any charitable donation make sure you spend a proper amount of time doing research. Safe charitable giving starts with research and ends with facts.
This article will lay out some guidelines and tips to help keep you safe and avoid charity scams. Always make sure to do your due diligence before proceeding with a donation.
Be extremely wary of direct offers
Unless you are receiving emails from a charity that you have dealt with in the past you should ignore them. You should only be receiving emails from organizations that you willing gave your email address to.
Random solicitations by email are a red flag. Legitimate charities do not email random people. They have their own targeted audience of members that they will communicate with. Safe charitable giving doesn’t happen over unsolicited emails.
Do not click on any links or images in these unknown types of emails. They may comprise your computers security and subject you to further emails.
Always double check the names of the company’s you are receiving emails from. Check the email address and the name that it is from.
Fake charities sometimes design their email messages to look similar to legitimate ones. Always double check the spelling of the email address it was sent from before replying.
If a charity has contacted you by phone there are some steps you can take to authenticate them. Always request that they first send you printed materials before any donations take place.
Once you receive the materials see if they match with the address and phone number listed in your directory or on their website. This is no guarantee of legitimacy, however many fake charities will not take the time to mail you something.
How to stay safe
Before making any monetary decisions with a charity make sure you get to know them. Attend some events and see what type of people are involved with them.
Volunteering is a great way to learn more about a charity. You will get a hands on experience of how well managed the charity is and you’ll get a feel for the people.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions while you are here. Questions like “How will my donation be spent?” or “How many people did you help last year?” , can help you make your decision.
All charities handle things in different ways. Different people like to take on the same problems with different approaches and outlooks. One thing that remains consistent with safe giving is open lines of communication.
Take the time to learn how a charity operates and choose one that aligns with your beliefs as a person.
If possible, give to groups that you already know. You can always support local charities that are established and help them do what they’re doing on a bigger scale.
If you’re looking for a new charity ask the people around you which ones they deal with. Try and select charity that someone you know has had a good experience with.
Make sure you ask if your donation is tax deductible. Some nonprofit organizations are not charities and therefore cannot provide you with a tax refund.
Warning signs in person:
- Person does not have any identification
- Person tries to guilt or pressure you into making a donation
- Cannot give basic details such as its full name, tax status, address or phone number.
- Gets defensive when asked direct questions
- Claims a cash only policy
- Wants you to write out the check to them personally
- Refuses to give you a receipt
Warning signs on websites:
- Website looks very similar to a well known charity – always check domain name
- Websites can replicate all the details of reputable charities—changing only the details of where to send donations.
- Insists payment by money transfer.
All of the above indicate signs of a company not interested in safe charitable giving. Always take some extra time to do research in order to protect yourself online. Personal responsibility is a big part of avoiding fake charities. Keep these tips in mind before deciding to deal with a new charity.
Don’t let a few bad apples ruin a good thing, online giving is a great way to support a charity! And there are other ways to support, such as raising awareness for breast cancer. Just make sure you do your due diligence and if possible try to make contact with someone at the charity.
Safe charitable giving always feels right and there are always open lines of communications. Be patient and do your research!