Integrated Family Community Services 3370 South Irving Street, Englewood, CO 80110-1816 Ph: 303-789-0501

Ensure Your Charitable Contributions Make It To The Right Hands

There are few things in this life as gratifying as donating to charity. Knowing you’re contributing to a good cause is great for your sense of self-worth. The tax deductions are a nice bonus, as well.

Creative Common License.” /> Make sure you charitable donation goes where it is intended by following these steps. Photo Credit: Creative Common License.

If you’re not careful, however, you may ended up sending your money to an organization that isn’t as helpful as you may have thought. In fact, some operations that present themselves as charitable are illegal.

Since you want to make sure to protect yourself and send your hard-earned money to people that deserve it, you have to avoid charity fraud. There are several steps you can take to ensure your contributions make it to the right hands.

Always Pay with a Check

Donating money with a check presents a couple of distinct advantages over the other options. First of all, it’s traceable. Any charity that wants you to pay in cash is suspect. It’s easy for them to deny receiving a cash donation, as you will have no proof that you gave it to them.

Another issue is personal information. While it’s still possible to make fraudulent purchases with the account information on a check, it’s not nearly as easy it is with credit or debit card information.

Ask for Documentation

You want to get everything in writing. The name of the organization, the address, how the funds are used, how much you donated and proof of tax-exempt status.

If a charity refuses to provide you with any or all of this information, do not give them a donation. If they don’t want a record of their business with you, there is probably a reason for it. And that reason is never an ethical one.

Use the Internet for Verification

When you are considering donating to a charity, it’s in your best interest to search for them on the internet. There are several sites that are set up to identify fraudulent organizations. In the same vein, there are many places that verify charities that are actually helping.

Remember to make your search thorough. A couple of posts one way or the other isn’t proof of anything, but when you see a pattern developing, there’s a good chance you’re onto something.

Avoid High-Pressure Charities

A charity that is trying to rush you into a decision is usually a bad sign. This means someone wants you to give them your money before you’ve had a chance to really think it over. Most likely, they are afraid that if you take your time you will see them for what they really are.

It’s not likely that an organization looking to do good will pressure you. They understand that helping requires a personal sacrifice, and they only want help from people that are 100% willing.

Don’t Accept Gifts

If a charity is offering you gifts, they are, at the very least, engaging in unethical behavior. The reason people give you gifts is because they know it makes you feel like you owe them something in return. Also, if they are truly worried about getting funds for a good cause, they won’t be spending money on gifts.

Avoid Charity Fraud

It’s unfortunate that people would use charity to further goals that are less than noble, but you shouldn’t let that keep you from giving. If you remember to always pay with a check, ask for documentation, use the internet for verification, avoid high-pressure charities and don’t accept gifts, it will be difficult for anyone to trick you.

Guest author Jamie Sorrick works for a consumer rights organization that identifies credit card scams and internet fraud.  Unfortunately, charitable donations aren’t immune to scammers.  When she isn’t helping consumers stay safe, Jamie is usually enjoying crime-free activities like reading or knitting.

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Integrated Family Community Services is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Financial Accountability

IFCS’ Tax ID # 84-0579740