There are some studies that indicate that 50% of all charitable donations that are made in a year by individual donors fall between Thanksgiving and New Year’s. This makes sense; the holiday season is known as a time for giving, and who better to give to than those who really need it?
There are all sorts of worthy charities and organizations that are both reputable and gracious when it comes to donations. Unfortunately, there also are a large amount of people who are just waiting to scam kindhearted individuals who only mean to perform a good deed.
So how do you avoid being scammed when making a donation? Here are some tips that are sure to help you:
- Make sure your charity actually follows through. There are quite a few charities that mean well, but simply don’t perform well. The general rule of thumb is that you should be sure that at least three-quarters of every dollar you spend should be used for charitable programs. So charities that are able to allocate at least 75% of their expenses toward charitable programs are those you want to look into; the other 25% or less will be used toward operating expenses for their organization. You can find this information online or simply by asking a representative from the organization. Remember: It being a “good cause” isn’t enough—there are lots of groups out there that advertise themselves with those two words, but not all actually follow through.
- Know the faces behind the organization. Go to the website of your potential charity and research who is at the head of the organization and what the group has accomplished under their leadership. You can tell a lot about the quality of a charity based on who is running it. People who have some pretty significant accomplishments with their organization probably aren’t simply in the business to scam you.
- Keep the money in your community. There are several advantages to this. First, you’re more likely to know what the organization is all about and whether or not they’re trustworthy. If not, they are much easier to research than national or international groups. Second, you’ll be able to see what effects your donation has from close by.
- Never give money over the phone. This should be a rule all year long, not just at the holiday season. Ask them to send you written information about their charity instead, because people can easily falsely present themselves as representatives of a charity over the phone just to get at your credit card information. When you donate, send a check in the mail or pay via a secure Web transaction.
- Same goes for people on the street. While some reputable organizations may choose to come door-to-door, you should ask for some actual documents or a website rather than simply signing your name and information on a clipboard. If you have any doubts about the professionalism of people who are asking for your money, there’s a decent chance that they’re trying to scam you.
Giving donations over the holiday season can make you feel like you’ve done a great thing for people in need, and it’s greatly appreciated by legitimate organizations. But as with any monetary transactions, you need to make sure that you’re keeping yourself protected from any potentially fraudulent attacks. Follow these tips and you should be safe this holiday season.