Giving to charity is usually the least you can do to help someone in need. Not all of us have the time to be involved with the work charity organizations do. However, by giving to a charity, we’re still able to do our bit to help those in need. Learning and researching on the not-for-profits organizations and avoiding making donation giving mistakes are critical to the success of your giving.
However, news of scams by charity organizations is not uncommon these days that it can be quite challenging for honest donors to make a contribution. If you plan to donate to a cause you support, there are a few things you need to know and be wary of.
Research, Learn, and Understand
The Internet has made it so easy for anyone to do research. All it takes is a few seconds of search and you’re able to pull up information about almost anything. Plus, with social media, you can also do a lot of research on anything or anyone you want to know.
Before you start giving, you must research about the organization. Legitimate organizations will have an official and verified website. Even though many scammers can design a very convincing website, a lot of things can point you in the right direction.
You can do a cross-search about the organization by checking scam reviews or reports by other users. People are quick to share information if a charity organization scams them, so it can be pretty easy for you to find any information.
Another way to verify if a charity organization is legitimate is to see if you can find any charitable news or validated Press Releases about them. Legitimate organizations need publicity, so they usually want the news to publish their works and efforts. Look for public events or CSR programs run by the organizations in the news.
Contact the nonprofit organization of your choice
A legitimate charity organization will display their contact details on their official website or social media. Use these details to get in touch with them. You can ask anything you want to know from a representative of the organization.
While we acknowledge that some scam organizations are good at pretending, your instincts will usually tell you. Make sure you get clear and coherent answers when you ask them about their objectives, procedures, and progress.
Genuine organizations will have clear answers on what they do, who they help, what kind of help they provide, how they use the money etc. The employees will be aware of the short- and long-term goals of the organization, so you can get a straight answer.
Furthermore, by talking to someone, you can gauge whether their objectives, missions, and procedures make sense to you. Sometimes, you may support the cause of the charity organization, but you may not agree with their procedures or efforts.
You don’t have to donate anything if your gut feeling is telling you something is not right. Even though you may feel slightly guilty, remember that it’s better for you to feel guilty than to have your money end up in the wrong hands.
Once you’re ready to donate
After you’ve done your research and ready to donate, pot for the safest way to transfer money. Legitimate organizations will ask you to donate via check or your credit card because this is the most secure option. However, never wire money to charity organizations. Another way to donate it would be via a donation platform.
Wiring money is as good as giving cash because once transferred, it’s almost impossible to get it back . Even though you feel that the charity organization you choose is a legitimate one, you can never be too sure. So, make sure you choose the safest way to transfer money.
It’s a good idea to transfer the smallest amount you possibly can. It has nothing to do with being stingy, but it’s more of a precaution. Should the organization turn out to be all they claim, you can always transfer more to them in the future.
Also, make sure you take a screenshot of all your communication and transaction with the organization right from the beginning. This way, you have evidence since day one should anything happen.
Monitor the Donation Transaction, and your donation impact
Now that you’ve donated to the charity of your choice, make sure you still keep an eye on anything suspicious. Many times, scam organizations are not really out to make money. What they want is your personal details, which can be used in identity theft crimes.
Make sure you keep an eye on all your banking transactions. You should report any suspicious transactions on your card/account to the bank. We’re not only talking about unauthorized transactions by the charity, but also other transactions that you didn’t make.
Your bank will block and cancel your card immediately upon reports of any unauthorized transactions. After you’ve received a new replacement card, you can advise the bank to flag or block any transactions by the same company or organization just to be on the safe side.
How to avoid getting scammed
Sometimes, as much as we’re trying to be vigilant, things can happen. But there are several things you can do to avoid getting scammed. The most important thing is never to let anyone pressure you into making a decision. You should learn how to spot charity fraud.
A lot of illegitimate charity organizations rely on people making decisions under pressure. They often talk fast, gives you stats and data so they sound important, or they name drop so you’ll feel compelled to donate.
They often use sentimental claims, so you’ll feel guilty for not donating. They may even show you photos of depleted homes with undernourished children for sympathy. As much as you feel sorry and want to help, don’t make a rash decision.
Ask for a copy of literature or official letter because charity organizations are not allowed by law to simply ask for money or organize fundraising. Once you got this documentation so you can do your research, you can tell the representative that you’ll donate when you’re ready.
Also, don’t be quick to trust Caller ID or SMS. Just like a hoax website, these are easy to fabricate too. You don’t have to answer any call made from numbers you don’t recognize. Furthermore, there are many sites you can check the authenticity of a phone number. All you have to do is to run the check on any suspicious number and see what turns up.
In your efforts to do your bit for charity, be sure you still exercise caution. If you’re in doubt and couldn’t find enough credible information on the charity you’re interested in, it’s always wise to go with organizations that are already established and well-known.
There are many genuine charity organizations out there that are doing honest work and they do need your help. However, they’re also an almost equal number of scam organizations that prey on people’s kindness. And exercising caution doesn’t mean you’re penny-pinching.
Just because you’re giving to a charity and it’s for a good cause, it doesn’t mean you can be careless. If ever you’re scammed by an organization, you can always file a report with the FTC. This is why it’s important to keep records and evidence of your conversation and transactions.
Another way to report a problematic charity or nonprofit to let us, you may also want to check our vetted list of Charity/Nonprofit Scandals.
Giving to a charity can give you a sense of fulfillment. All you have to remember is to be smart and careful about it.
In realty, donating to a real charity is not where you should stop, you should donate to a high-impact nonprofits to make sure your valuable donation realizes into great impact.