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The team from Charity Navigator, the nation's largest independent charity evaluator and leading donor advocate, shares their thoughts on emerging nonprofit-sector issues and offers tips to better inform your intelligent giving decisions.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Don't Get Spooked by an Online Charity Scam!


Charities do important work to deliver services to individuals, families, and animals in need. They give a voice to the voiceless and make sure they are taken care of. 

At Charity Navigator, we work throughout the year to provide up-to-date charity ratings, tips, and tools to help you give more confidently. But, we know that news of charity fraud can still shake your trust. Here are a few of our quick tips for avoiding an online charity scam.


I Got This Email And...

We’ve all received emails for charities asking for our support, especially at the end of the year. Before you click through to make a gift, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are you familiar with this charity?
  • Do you feel a connection to their mission or the program they are seeking funding for?
  • Can you afford to make a donation at this time?

Beware of unsolicited emails that come with attachments or from an unknown sender. We recommend deleting them! 

If a charity seems legitimate but you’re just not sure, consider giving them a call. You can find contact information for rated charities in the left-hand column on every charities’ profile.

Sending Money Overseas? Don’t Do It!

We strongly advise against wiring money to international banks. You will have less recourse to take action if the organization turns out to be a scam. And, doing so could open you up to more fraud.

But What About That Crowdfunding Campaign?

Most crowdfunding campaigns are legitimate and represent great causes, but we do recommend doing your homework first. Consider these questions:

  • Is the person who shared the campaign with you someone you trust?
  • What is their connection to the campaign?
  • Is the purpose or mission of the campaign something that aligns with your interests?
  • Who will manage the funds that are collected and how will they be spent.

Campaigns should provide you with the name of the individual or organization who is responsible for collecting and managing the funds. Take note of this to better understand where your dollars are going.

We often advise against donating to individuals that contact you directly for support. If you want to give, look for an organization that provides the services the individual claims to be looking for.

Most Importantly…

Do your research!

Use Charity Navigator’s ratings and resources and the information provide on the charity’s website or crowdfunding page to determine if the cause is legitimate. Don’t be afraid to reach out and get more information before you make your gift.

Charity Navigator’s Giving Basket is a secure platform for making donations to your favorite charities. Consider giving it a try the next time you want to make a contribution!

You can learn even more about protecting yourself from charity scams here.

Written by Ashley Post, Communications Manager at Charity Navigator.

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