(FinancialHealth.net) – Do you have a favorite charity you would like to give to? It can be rewarding to help a specific cause and it can also give you a bit of a tax write-off too. One problem is that you can’t always be sure where your money is going.
Scammers run elaborate schemes to get your donation dollars, sometimes by impersonating real organizations. So how do people avoid getting scammed? Learn the best way to make your charitable donation count next time you give.
Give Directly to the Organization
When deciding to make a charitable donation, it’s best to give directly to the organization to help prevent any misdirection of funds. Giving through a donation box or handing your money to someone who says they’ll take care of it for you can be risky.
While they may legitimately work or volunteer for an organization, anything can happen to that money before it’s counted and received.
Be Wary of Email Solicitations
Maybe you received a legitimate-looking email from a well-known charitable organization asking for money. Some scammers use emails that look almost exactly like the real charity’s website, so you should always be careful about these.
There are a few common red flags that indicate an email may not be real. Look for things like misspellings, slightly different charity names or disclaimers in foreign languages.
Call the number listed on the website and be sure they can verify their license and tax-ID number. Use those numbers to cross-check their info with the IRS or the Better Business Bureau before donating.
What to Do If You Suspect Fraud
If you recently made a charitable donation only to later realize you likely gave it to a fake organization, it can make you feel as if your trust has been violated, which it has. While you will probably want to hold someone accountable, the truth is that scammers are good at covering their tracks.
They change their business names and numbers constantly.
If you think the scam is a local operation, contact the police department and file a complaint. For larger operations, two places to contact include the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) and The National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO).
Give by Donating Your Time
One way to make a donation that really counts is to donate your time to the charity of your choice instead of money. Help out at a fundraiser or clean up after the gala. Reading to kids or stuffing envelopes are just two more options.
Have a specific product or service you would like to offer from your business? You can give that way too! Not only will you be helping others, but you’ll likely get a great feeling of satisfaction as well.
As a rule of thumb, don’t give money to people who come to your door to solicit for a charity and don’t offer cash to an organization you’ve never heard of.
Do a little research and give what you can afford to an organization that checks out or one you have worked with in the past.
~Here’s to Your Financial Health!
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