Donating to a Non-Profit Organization: How to avoid getting scammed

Millan&Co CPA 512-479-6819

Considering donating to a non-profit organization?  Don’t let fraudsters take advantage of your desire to help, through dirty tactics such as emotional appeals. Exercising a little caution will protect you against scammers who are trying to cheat you. Here are some guidelines to keep in mind when donating to a charity.

First, research the non-profit organization to which you are considering donating. There are some websites that have done some of the legwork for you already. Charity Watch and Charity Navigator are both recommended by the Federal Trade Commision. These sites can give you a list of legitimate charities, and even provide a breakdown of how your money might be spent by the organization.


When you have decided where you want to donate, go directly to the charity’s website. Do not be tempted to take a “shortcut”, such clicking through a social media link or making a transaction over the phone. Not only are you taking a risk by possibly giving money to an illegitimate recipient, but you could also be leaving yourself vulnerable to identity theft or malware downloads.


Always be vigilant about the information the charity is requesting from you. A bona fide non-profit organization will not need your Social Security Number or Bank Account Routing information to accept your tax deductible donation. And they will be able to provide you with details about the charity, such as address and registration details (if they are for real, they will be able to show proof of their status as a 501(c)(3), or non-profit organization), and also about how your money will be spent. A legitimate charity will never insist that you act immediately, as it is seen as bad for their reputation.


Lastly, remember to always keep records of any donations. The safest course of action is to make your donation with a credit card. This allows you to track purchases and often times has fraud protection as part of your user agreement. For any donations over $250, request a letter from the organization confirming their charitable status – 501(c)(3)  -and the amount that you donated.


Donating to a non-profit organization is a very commendable thing. Don’t let the threat of scammers deter you from helping. With a little due diligence and caution, you can rest assured that your money is going to your charity of choice. If you need further assistance with planning your charitable donations and the tax deductions contact us here or call 512-479-6819. We will be happy to provide you with the resources and individualized care your donation requires.


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