Giving Tuesday: How To Give Your Money To Charities — Not Scammers

December 3, 2019
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Follow these tips to keep your charitable giving safe, and with the intended organization.

Hot on the heels of Black Friday and Cyber Monday, Giving Tuesday encourages people around the world to give to charities. But it can also attract scammers.

Americans donated nearly $400 million dollars online on Giving Tuesday in 2018.

Colorado Secretary of State Jena Griswold has some tips on how to avoid giving your money to con artists instead of a cause you care about.

"It's important to make sure that we are not assuming that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs or other social media have already been vetted," she said.

To protect themselves from scams, donors can check online to make sure an organization is a registered nonprofit. When donating over the phone or in person, Griswold recommends people ask for a charity's registration number. Nonprofits are required to register with the Secretary of State's Office.

Officials also suggest that you verify how the money will be used and make donations by check or credit card instead of cash.

Any suspicious solicitations can be reported to the Secretary of State's office.

More safety tips:

  • Be wary of someone who uses high-pressure tactics like urging you to donate immediately without giving you time to think about it and do your research.
  • Watch out for charities with names that sound similar to well-known, reputable organizations. Sometimes these sound-alike names are simply intended to confuse donors.
  • Do not click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware into your computer. Go directly to the organization’s website or call to make donations.
  • Be wary if the charity refuses to provide detailed information about its programs. Reputable charities welcome questions from potential donors, so don’t hesitate to ask questions or request materials by mail.
  • Be wary if the organization thanks you for a pledge you don’t remember making.
  • You have the right to cancel a monetary pledge until 12 midnight of the third business day after the day on which you receive written confirmation of contribution. You have the right to cancel a nonmonetary pledge until 12 midnight of the first business day after the day on which you receive written confirmation of contribution to cancel.
  • Ask whether the charitable contribution is tax-deductible, and verify with your tax advisor or the IRS. The fact that a charity has a tax identification number does not necessarily mean your contribution is tax-deductible. Ask for a receipt showing the amount of the contribution and stating that it is tax-deductible.
  • When considering gifts to an individual or family, ask the fundraiser whether there is a trust or deposit account established for their benefit. Contact the banking institution to verify the existence of the account, and check locally to confirm that there really is such a need.
  • Be wary of charities that seem to have been formed specifically in response to a particular disaster.
  • Be wary of giving through social media or crowdfunding websites. They are often unregulated and difficult to track.