1. Don’t donate over the phone In general, it’s best not to donate over the phone. It’s difficult to determine authenticity, and up to 95 cents of every donated dollar can go to the telemarketer who just interrupted your dinner.
2. Follow your instincts Tear-jerker tales may get us to part with our money, but a legitimate group will not rely on sob stories to solicit funds. When an organization is preying on your heart strings to the point of discomfort, you may be falling for a scam.
3. Donate with caution after catastrophe Natural disasters bring out the kindness and generosity in people. They also bring out the crooks. The FBI has uncovered thousands of websites with a disaster’s name in their titles, most of which were run by criminals who lived overseas. When disaster strikes, though, you do want to help — and you still can. Just make sure your money is going to larger organizations and names you recognize. Don’t wait for them to reach out to you. Donate through the charity’s website or by calling them yourself. This way, you’ll know you’ve reached the right party.
4. Know the charity When choosing a charity, do some research. Find out what the charity stands for and about the programs and fund-raising campaigns they run. This way, when someone calls impersonating this organization while collecting for a cause you know they don’t support, you’ll recognize the scam.
5. Read the reviews Aside from checking out the charity’s official website, you’ll want to read some third-party reviews. You can check for a charity’s legitimacy on objective review sites like CharityNavigator and CharityWatch.
6. Ask for info You’ll sometimes be asked for donations over the phone, and the caller will sound genuine and sincere. You’ll be tempted to give money, but first, verify that the solicitor is indeed representing a charity. Ask for details. What is the organization’s mission? How will this money be used? Will you receive a receipt for tax purposes? If the caller isn’t forthcoming or confident with their answers, hang up!
7. Give safely As always, never wire money to an unverified recipient. It’s like paying with cash — there’s no way to get it back. Similarly, only provide sensitive information if you’re absolutely certain the caller is genuine. As mentioned, if you’re in doubt, contact the organization on your own to donate funds.
Donating to charity is a beautiful thing. Learn how to recognize charity scams so you can continue giving with a full heart.