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Determining Whether Your Charity of Choice is Legitimate

In a world full of conmen and bogus charity organizations, it’s natural to feel wary of donating your hard-earned cash when you’re not sure whether your funds are actually going to reach the people who need it. But just because there are a few bad apples out there doesn’t mean that you should miss out on the rewarding experience of making a difference and forego giving to worthy causes altogether. Arm yourself with knowledge and prudence by following the below guidelines and you’ll be able to locate legitimate charities and organizations: 

Choose your cause  before you give. If you really want to make a difference, you need to avoid giving away money reactively to the first charity that asks for it. Invest some of your time in a bit of soul searching and determine which cause means the most to you, then target organizations that support it. The more in-depth you go, the more of a difference you will be able to make as your donations won’t be scattered and spread out thin. Similarly, instead of just donating to a general cancer-fighting organization, target an organization that dedicates its efforts to providing mammograms to women at risk of cancer in your community, for example. 

Investigate the charity’s background and performance. A legitimate charity should be registered, have had dealings with other legitimate organizations, and have a clean and clear track record that is easy to find and follow. Ask around and read up about your charity of choice before committing to it. It’s also worth contacting the organization itself and finding out more about their activities and history. 

Beware of charities with sound-alike names. Some charity organizations might have similar names but completely different purposes. Make sure that the organization you’re targeting is the one that you want before going ahead and making your donation. Similarly, some bogus organizations might adopt a name that is similar to a well-known charity to misguide donators, so pay attention to minor differences and investigate your organization carefully. 

Check the charity’s commitment to donor’s rights. Legitimate charities usually have a donor privacy policy promising not to sell your contact details to a third party. Before choosing your charity, make sure that it willingly shares its donor privacy policy with you and that you agree with the policy’s terms before going ahead and sharing your information with them.  

Donate directly to the organization. For-profit fundraisers often take a percentage of the funds they raise for charities, so instead eliminate the middleman and ensure that 100% of your donation goes to the actual charity. When making your donation, never ever give your social security number or credit card info out on the phone, and be wary of donation websites. Go down to the organization headquarters and fill out what you need to personally to make sure who you’re dealing with and ensure that your money is going where it should.  

Don’t trust collection tins. Who hasn’t fished out change to fill a donation can featuring a charity sticker before? You might feel warm and fuzzy afterwards, but have you ever stopped and thought of where your cash actually goes? Are you even sure that these tins or individual donation collectors genuinely belong to the charity they claim they do? Be proactive and check with the charity organization where their official donation boxes and collectors are stationed before making any donations.