It is sad that people will use the plight of others to make money for themselves. Unfortunately, there are scammers that will take advantage of your good will.
Making a giving plan is your first line of defense against scams and to make sure you are giving wisely. A giving plan is simple to implement:
- Decide which causes you are passionate about – animals, children, and diseases such as cancer.
- Evaluate the charities that support your causes using Charity Navigator and GuideStar.
- Determine how much you can afford to give or desire to give.
When the solicitations come, you are already positioned with your giving decisions. If a charity has a compelling story to make you stop and listen, then do your homework. Ask for information. Get the exact name of the organization, ask for material to be mailed, get a website URL. Then check them out, do the research.
Other Do’s and Don’ts:
- Never send cash donations. For security and tax purposes, it is best to pay by check – made payable to the charity – or by credit card.
- Never wire money to someone claiming to be a charity. Wiring money is like sending cash, once you send it, you can’t get it back.
- Keep a record of your donations.
- Be wary of charities that spring up too suddenly in response to current events and natural disasters. Even if they are legitimate, they probably don’t have the infrastructure to get the donations to the affected area or people.
- If you receive a call from a charity soliciting donations, ask if they are a fundraiser for the charity. You may want to give directly to the charity so they receive 100% of your donation.
- Think twice before giving a number of small donations to a wide variety of charities. A $25 donation will likely get your name sold to other charities. Your mailbox will fill up with solicitations.
We are entering the ‘giving season’. Many charities receive 50% of their revenue in the last 3 months of the year. Give generously, but give wisely.