By Lorie Ham
The world is filled with good causes and those in need more than ever right now, but if we want to donate to a charity that we are not familiar with, how do we know if we are donating to a legitimate charity?
The first thing to do is research. There are multiple online sources to go to for this. First off, are they actually a nonprofit, which means that your donation is tax deductible. The IRS has a nonprofit charities database where you can find out if a charity is exempt. Other websites where you can learn more about a charity include Charity Navigator, GuideStar, and Charity Watch. There is also BBB Wise Giving Alliance which helps donors by evaluating organizations based on specific standards. There are 20 standards such as governance and oversight, effectiveness, finances, solicitations, and informational materials, for which charities earn a point each. However, keep in mind some smaller or local charities might not be listed, so don’t automatically assume if they aren’t listed that they aren’t legitimate. In those situations, it is a good idea to see if you can find others who have had experience with them, whether it was good or bad. Asking others can be a good source of information when checking out any charity, but can be especially helpful with local ones.
Other things to consider include not donating to someone who just calls you on the phone, don’t donate via text, or when someone just comes to your doorstep. Take their info and go check them out for yourself. And never give them your credit card number over the phone or in person, legitimate organizations typically have options for donating securely. Also, keep in mind that charities do have administrative costs so if they claim 100 percent of your donation goes to victims or resources you should investigate further. If you ever have a bad feeling about a charity, maybe you should just steer clear, there are an abundance of charities in need out there that are easy to check out. There also charities that let you donate goods instead of cash. You can find some more tips in this article in HuffPost.
It is a good thing to donate to help others, and right now there are more needs than usual. Just make sure your money really is going to the right place.