6 Ways to Make Sure You’re Donating to a Legitimate Charity Online – and Not Being Scammed

Charitable giving continues to grow year over year, and the majority is from individuals. In 2017, 70% of American donations came from individuals, up 5.2% from 2016. In Canada, donations continue to rise every year, with the baby boomer generation being responsible for more than 40% of total donations. But with everything nowadays you need to beware of scammers who will try to take advantage of these good intentions, and pocket your donations instead of distributing them to a greater need.

In this article we take a look at past donation scams, 6 ways to make sure you’re donating to a legitimate charity and what to do if you think you’ve been scammed.

What are some past donation scams we can learn from?

1. Natural Disasters – when massive natural disasters happen they bring out the best in many of us. This type of donating is called ‘disaster giving’ and scammers are often ready to take advantage of it.

2. Crowdfunding websites – GoFundMe is a great platform used to crowd source money for different charities, but you always need to be careful.

3. Some charities are legitimate but do not use money wisely.

  • Givewell and Charity Navigator rate charities based on their transparency, financial status, and how well they execute their altruistic missions.

6 ways to make sure you’re donating to a legitimate charity

1. Approach the charities yourself – vet them online and offline before you give and always be on the look out for phishing emails.

2. Check their registration– all charities should be registered with their state of residence – here are lists of registered charities in the US and Canada. You can also check if the organization is listed with the Better Business Bureau at Give.org, or the Canadian Charity Registration Portal.

3. Review their website – make sure it’s secure by looking for “https.”

4. Give directly – make sure to avoid third-party givers as they will take a slice of your donation and the charity will receive less.

5. Know what to give – a charity will never need your Social Security Number or birth date for you to make a donation.

6. Look for a receipt – the receipt will have the charity’s details included on it so you have the option of claiming it on your taxes.

What to do if you think you’ve been scammed

If you think you’ve been scammed make sure to alert the authorities. Report to either the authority of the platform you found the charity on (like Facebook) or authorities monitoring fraud in your state or country. Click here for the US cyber fraud reporting portal.

Always be careful who you give to! Comment below with the charities you like to support and be sure to like our Facebook page for daily updates.

17 comments

  1. Lynn - Reply

    Thank you for the reminder. I have always been selective about my charity giving, I don’t give to door to door canvasing or telephone canvasing. I choose who, when and how.

  2. Maria - Reply

    Thanks for this information! I had someone call stating I’d won $2,000,000. And a beautiful car. They asked questions that seemed legitimate, but when I failed to get excited over my good fortune, they asked why. Anyways, they then said that their accountant would call me to finalize the details. He called, and when I didn’t answer, he kept calling. Finally, he left a msg. The thing is, during his msg, I could hear the first guy in the background say, nah, she doesn’t believe us so let’s move on to the next one!

  3. Sherry Peterson - Reply

    I had a similar experience. A guy called saying he was from Publishers Clearing House and I won 5 mill and a car. But BEFORE the could give me my prize, I needed to send a money order of $682.48 to some lady in New Jersey and get their confirmation # then I would get a prize. REALLY! ! ! Pub Cl House just shows up!!!

  4. Cstherine Presto - Reply

    If an e-mail looks legit, but I still suspect that it may be a scam, I personally call the legit company and ask them if they had actually sent me that e-mail. If they say No, then it is a scam. The legit company then will give me their “spoofing” e-mail address. I then forward that scam e-mail to them, so they can follow through and shut down that scam.

  5. Brenda - Reply

    Thank you so much for the information, I can’t believe that people can do that, is scary.

  6. ILENE MARTIN - Reply

    I donate to Shriners Hospital because they’ve cared for my granddaughter for nine years. I also donate to St. Jude Hospital.

  7. wilson king - Reply

    In Canada, CRA has a Charities Listings site where you can view their financial statements and see how much goes to the actual charity. I use it all the time and only donate if the % is high enough.

  8. Ken - Reply

    I was looking at some of the clips of Mr. Trump with the Clemson tigers, on you tube-an a add kept popping up do you support Mr. Trump– I clicked on the add, they ask for my email address, then my zip code–the next window popup and it ask for money–I shut it down– went back took screenshot and sent it to the guys at fixme—

  9. Steven S McMahan - Reply

    As a former air personality, it used to give me great pleasure busting scammers to the public, so I certainly applaude your work. One of my favorite third-party givers is the one wanting money for police and fire services. Boy, are THEY pushy! I always politely thank them for the “reminder”, write a check, and personally deliver it to my local police/fire agencies to be used for things like buying teddy bears to keep in their vehicles for children who have met with unbearable situations and need something comforting to cling to.

  10. Alamogordo Dogg - Reply

    If I donate, it is only in response to a mailed request and I donate using a paper check! NO online donations for me!!!

    • Linda - Reply

      Hi Geri, I assume you are asking about one of the comments from above. FixMe is just the shortened version for FixMeStick. So if you ever need to contact us at FixMeStick, you can send an email to support@FixMeStick.com.

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