It’s a good reminder that charities and organizations need funding for their programs, especially in this year of the coronavirus pandemic when so many people are in need of food and housing. However, caution is needed so that your money goes to worthwhile organizations.
Here are tips for Giving Tuesday:
Give to charities or organizations that you know about or that you’ve researched. Scammers are continually looking for the next dollar or an identity they can steal. Check with the agency in your state that registers charities. It may be the Attorney General’s Office, the Secretary of State’s Office, or another agency. Determine if the charity you’re considering is registered and has had any complaints filed against it.
Find out. What the charity’s mission is. Ask whether your donation will be tax deductible. It’s a red flag if a charity won’t give you written information on its programs and finances.
Be sure you’ve got right charity. Scammers operate under names that are similar to charities we know such as the American Red Cross, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and Nature Conservancy.
Watch out for high-pressure sales techniques used by bogus charities. Hang up if you get a call about a charity you haven’t heard of. Ask how much of your money goes to the charity and how much the telemarketer gets if you decide to talk to the caller.
Be on the alert for emotional appeals. They distract you from finding out whether the charity is reliable.
Find out how charities spend their money. A charity may spend half or more of the money it raises on fundraising campaigns instead of programs. Most states make reports available on charities that offer this information. Websites, such as GuideStar, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator also provide valuable information including details on fundraising.
Don’t give cash. Send a check and make it out to the charity, not an individual.
Never give out personal information. Don’t give charity solicitors your Social Security and don’t give them a credit card number if you’re not familiar with the charity.
Make sure you donate securely. When you donate online, check for secure websites with a https:// web address rather than http://. Don’t send a text donation, unless you call the charity or go to its website to find out if contributions by text message are accepted. A scammer may have crafted a fake text solicitation.
To file a complaint about an unreputable charity or scam, go to the website of the Attorney General’s Office in your state.