Avoid Charity Scams and Give Wisely this Holiday Season

Dec 2, 2019 | Distinctive Care, Estate Planning & Administration

Today is Giving Tuesday! Here are a couple of ways you can donate carefully.

At year-end and during the holiday season, many Americans donate money to different charitable organizations. During this time, you may receive more requests for donations in the mail or over the phone. Unfortunately, there are fraudulent organizations out there who try to take advantage of holiday giving.

So, how can you tell which organizations are worthy of your gift and which are scamming you? First, you should be able to obtain proof that the charity is a 501(c)(3) by asking for its tax identification or EIN number. Second, research the cause and ask yourself, do the mission, goals, and values of the organization align with my own values? Finally, you should be aware of the organization’s history of dollars raised vs. dollars contributed directly to its charitable purpose. As a rule of thumb, over 65% of donations should go directly to the mission.

A fantastic source for research is Charity Navigator (www.charitynavigator.org). This website rates 501(c)(3) charities based on financial health, accountability, and transparency. Here, you will be able to easily find answers to the above questions and you may also learn about other well-regarded organizations. Charity Navigator makes it easy: search for a specific charity or consult “best of” rating lists organized by types of causes.

If you are unable to donate funds to your favorite charities this year, consider volunteering. Often, volunteering time and resources is needed just as much as, if not more than, money. Here are a few options that might be suitable for you:

  • Tutor or mentor a child at a local school or library
  • Become a museum docent
  • Pack supplies at a food bank
  • Walk dogs at an animal shelter
  • Find outreach programs through a religious organization
  • Participate in an angel tree for seniors or children in need

As you give this holiday season through charitable donations or volunteering, remember to find an organization that is genuinely serving others.