Avoid Charity Scams

charity scamsCharities serve an important purpose on both a local and global scale. When a person can not provide for their basic needs and the government also can’t assist, charities can often fill the gap. Without contributions, charities will not be able to help and people will often go without food, clothes, shelter, etc.

Giving to a charity is a rewarding experience. However, not all charities are created equally. Some “charities” are created with the sole purpose of being deceptive and scamming people out of their hard-earned money. Based on our experience, here are some tips we suggest you consider when you are in a generous mood in order to avoid charity scams.

Research the charity online

Take your time to find out if this charity is real or just a scam. There are reputable websites (e.g., Charity Watch, Charity Navigator, Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Give Alliance) who research a charities’ efficiency.  Some may even give grades. Be leery of charities who have a low rating.

You can also read reviews on charities online by using the search engines. If you see many negative reviews, it would be best to not give. Most people would only write a negative review if they felt the need to warn others.

Ask how your donation will be used

A legit charity should not have a problem explaining the mission, how your money will be used, and the percentage of your money going to the cause. If they can’t answer basic questions, keep researching and don’t feel obligated to give. Some deceptive organizations will be using most of their donated money for overhead expenses (e.g., general expenses, management, marketing) and not to the actual mission.

Keep a track of donations

If you do decided to donate, keep a track of donations. It is not easy keeping a record of cash donations.  It may be best to use a credit card or issue a check. A credit card will give the most protection against theft.  It will also aid you in keeping track of your purchases. You should also insist that they give you a letter or confirmation with the amount after donating.

Ensure the organization has had experience

A legit charity tends to have more experience than a scam. This is because they have been doing the work for some time. After a natural disaster (e.g., the Haiti earthquake), organizations will emerge out of nowhere. Opportunist will use a dire circumstance to make a quick dollar at your expense. Again, research will prevent this.

Go for well-established non-profit organization

If you don’t have time to research or you can only find little information on a charity organization, then take the highly suggested route, go for a well-established nonprofit organization. You can find list of well-established nonprofit organizations on any of the websites we gave in this article.


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