When donating to a charity, you must be careful in choosing a legitimate organization. For every honest charitable organization in the world, there may be a shady outfit, ready to abscond with your money. Here are some tools and tips for checking out charities, before you donate:
Charity Research Websites
Use any of these websites to lookup and learn more about legitimate charitable organizations:
Give.org (BBB Wise Giving Alliance)
Check with the Government
The federal government will let you search their list of tax-exempt organizations and verify their eligibility to receive donations. I find that this search is easiest if I know and enter the EIN of the company I am researching.
Your state government may also offer tools for finding registered charities. Find your state on this list for appropriate tools, contacts and additional info.
When donating money, using a credit card is going to protect you the most. Personal checks are also acceptable if you are confident of the company you are dealing with. But please be suspicious of any charity asking for gift cards or wire transfers or cryptocurrency.
Fraudulent charities may use a name that is deceptively similar to legitimate charities. When doing your research, be exact with the wording and spelling of the company with whom you are dealing.
If a charity is pressuring you to act now before time runs out, stop and back away from the situation. Pressure tactics should be a red flag for fraud. Legitimate charities won’t use a sense of urgency to earn your donations.
Keep good records of what you give, and check your accounts and statements to verify what you’ve given. Watch out for any misunderstandings that lead to recurring withdrawals or charges.