There are a lot of good charities that need your help now and in the future, and will put your donations to good use. But, unfortunately, this is also a time of year when scammers take advantage of kind hearts. If you want to give, it is a good idea to pay attention and check things out before giving money over the phone, clicking on what could be a fake website, or responding to a request for money in person or through the mail.
Websites like CharityNavigator.org or the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org provide good information about how a charity uses your donations, their contact information, and if they are registered as a legitimate, 501c3 organization with IRS. There are also many local organizations that do great work, but you may want to check things out with reputable sources, visit their facility, or ask if you can witness or participate in one of their hands-on efforts.
If you want to donate time, money, goods or services, it is best to contact the charity first to find out what type of help they need. Sometimes people want to donate used clothing or drop in to volunteer. But, as gracious as these charities may be, they may not have the ability to store or distribute some of these donations, or there may be special training that is needed for volunteers. All charities need money, and many have secure websites or aps to make it easy for you to donate with a credit card.
If you are contacted or come across something that seems suspicious, report it to consumer agencies like the Federal Trade Commission, Better Business Bureau, or law enforcement. If it appears that a scammer is posing as a well-known charity, you may want to contact the charity at a legitimate address or phone number to make them aware of the situation as well.