|Every year, dozens of new “charities” conspire to rip off well-intentioned givers, especially after highly publicized disasters and around holidays. These scammers starve legitimate charities of resources and make life more difficult for those truly in need. Take the following steps before you give to ensure your donation goes where you intended:
Have a giving plan. Don’t give on an ad hoc basis, or on impulse. If you have a plan, it’s easier to politely decline solicitations.
Research your charities. If a charity wants your money, you are absolutely justified in investigating them. For a list of questions, check out CharityNavigator.org.
Determine a giving budget and stick to it. You know what you can afford. Give with your heart, but use your head.
Don’t give on the street. Many street collectors are scammers. Don’t put cash in some collector’s bucket without doing some due diligence.
Get a receipt. Legitimate charities can give you a receipt, which you can use to take a tax deduction.
Ensure the charity is a legitimate 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. To get the official IRS list, download Publication 78 at IRS.gov.
Write a check. This establishes a paper trail and can help authorities apprehend scammers.