You may have noticed your email inbox being inundated with requests for you to support causes ranging from arts installations to cancer research. This time of year, nonprofits step up their fundraising efforts in order to fully participate in the giving spirit of the season. While the majority of these are noteworthy and admirable charities, keep these wise tips in mind to help ensure that campaigns you want to support are credible.

  1. Is the cause appealing to your emotions with imagery of children or animals? Sometimes scams take advantage of emotional messaging. 
  2. If you are solicited via telephone, be sure to get all of the charity’s information, including their tax ID number, in order to perform due diligence on websites like GuideStar.
  3. A good indicator of a charity’s efficacy and credibility is the proportion of funds that is spent on programming. Look at the organization’s annual report, or check out websites like CharityNavigator that provide free financial information on many of the country’s top charities.
  4. If you believe that the solicitation may be coming from a suspicious source, it may be worthwhile to contact the organization directly to ensure that they are aware of the campaign that contacted you.
  5. Don’t provide financial information such as credit cards or bank accounts over the phone if you’re unsure about the organization.
  6. The best ways to donate are by check (made payable to the charity) or by credit card (online through a secure service), as opposed to cash, which is easily misplaced or stolen.

Performing items on the checklist will help you sidestep “avoidable mistakes” that can come back to haunt you. If you have any questions about these tips, or to learn more about how CAAP can assist you in due diligence procedures, please feel free to contact us.

Image credit: Cyra R. Cancel

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