The Blog Of TL Wall Accounting

How To Evaluate Which Charities Are Real Or Not

Last May we posted an article titled 4 Scams Looking To Take Your Money. We identified one that, on the surface of things, always sounds legitimate but isn’t.

The problem with all the phone calls we get from this or that charity is that many of them are legitimate charities trying to raise money for whatever their purpose is. That’s why it’s so easy for us to be scammed. No matter what the rest of the world thinks about Americans, overall we’re probably one of the most generous countries in the world when it comes to donating our money to good causes.

Few of us are rich enough to give the kind of money all these charities want. We certainly don’t want our money going to fake charities, or charities that don’t really do what we hope they’re doing with the money. In that vein, we’re making some recommendations of what you should do when you’re not sure whether a charity is real or not.

The first thing is recognizing the name of an organization. Ever hear of the American Heart Association? What about the American Heart Foundation? The first is real; the second isn’t. However, when you’re on the phone, sometimes the person on the other line can make it seem like it’s the same thing. If you’re unsure of what you heard ask them to repeat it. If it sounds fake, tell them you’re uncomfortable giving our your credit card information over the phone and ask them for a link you can visit online to donate.

The second recommendation is to tell them you need to verify who they are and see if they can call you the next day. Most of them will hang up. Some of them will try to push you into foregoing all of that and making a payment anyway before they hang up. For the few that are willing to do so, check them out online, but while you’re at it also make sure you put into your search engine their name followed by “review”. Some sites can look really good, making you think they’re legitimate, but reading reviews will help to tell you whether they are or not.

The third recommendation, even if you know the organization but not the person you’re talking to, is to ask if you can pay them online. Not only is that still more secure (although some people are still scared putting their information online like that, it’s actually much safer than it used to be), but you’ll then have an opportunity to do a further search to see just how much of that money goes to the charity and how much of it is eaten up in administrative costs.

The final recommendation… look at this list. It highlights the 50 worst charities to give money to, and was put together by the Tampa Bay Times and The Center for Investigative Reporting. Some of these are legitimate but their administrative costs leaves them little to use for the purposes you’re giving. You’re probably better off giving to a local organization, which uses the money the way you hope it will.

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