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Before Giving to Charity: Tips to Avoid Charity Scams

Jul 25, 2019, 09:09 AM by Olga Melancon

Hands dropping coins into a donation box
When you choose to support a cause you care about, you want your donation to count. But before you start writing that check or whip out the cash, consider this: many charitable non-profits have no paid staff and are entirely run by volunteers. So, why not donate your time if you can?  Providing a monetary donation is great, but people is really what it boils down to here. Without volunteers, non-profits cannot perform the functions that allow them to serve the community.

But, we get it. Life is hectic and not everyone has the time in their schedule to volunteer. In that case, this is where a monetary donation can help. However, where there are well-intentioned people who want to make a difference, there are charity scammers who will prey on kindness for their own financial gain. So, before you give to a charity, do your research to ensure you avoid charity scams and that your donations get to where they’ll do some good:

Research the charity

Looking for a new charity to support? Make sure you do your homework first! Search for a cause you care about like “homeless children,” or “food pantry,” along with phrases like “best charity” or highly-rated charity.” And when you consider giving to a specific charity, search its name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.” This will ensure any unfavorable reports against the organization are brought to light.

Be careful how you make a monetary contribution

If someone wants you to make a donation in cash, by gift card, or by wiring money, don’t do it. That’s often how charity scammers ask you to pay. Once a donation has been made, it’s good practice to keep a record of all donations. After all, you’ll want to make sure you’re only charged the amount you agreed to donate and that you’re not signed up to make a recurring donation (if that wasn’t part of your contribution).

Be on the lookout for red flags

  • Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. A legitimate charity will not put pressure on you to make a contribution.
  • Some charity scammers try to trick you into paying them by thanking you for a donation you never made.
  • Be weary of vague and sentimental claims but give no specifics about how your donation will be used.

If you see any red flags, or if you’re not sure about how a charity will use your donation, consider giving to a different charity. There are many worthy organizations who will use your donation wisely.

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