Deciphering whether or not a charitable organization is a functioning, corrupt-free philanthropic body is one of the most difficult tasks for charity givers and avid donors across the country. With the plethora of charitable organizations available to individuals focusing a needs ranging from helping the needy to rebuilding the community, conducting research to evaluate if a specific charity is a trustworthy organization is essential.
In 2015, Federal Trade Commission and law enforcement partners from every state and the District of Columbia charged discovered four cancer charities that failed to allocate funds to members related to their cause or mission. Instead, these charities chose to use donated funds that were not only unrelated to the mission, but also benefitted internal management.
Instead of helping cancer patients, the heads of the Cancer Fund of America, Cancer Support Services, Children’s Cancer Fund of America, and the Breast Cancer Society allegedly funneled donations into luxury cruises, college tuition for family members and friends, sporting event and concert tickets, and even dating website memberships.
Some useful organizations that help donors decipher a charity’s validity are the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and CharityWatch. In addition to examining including how much of your donation actually reaches the people you are trying to help.
CharityWatch gives its top rating to about a third of the more than 600 charities it evaluates. Charity Navigator, which looks at more than 8,000 organizations, allows you to rate charities regardless of region or locale, by . Charity Navigator also offers easy, simple to do lists for donors and fundraisers to examine before giving funds to a certain organization.
Indications of charity scams:
-Unable to provide a Federal tax ID number—that it’s a qualified charity and that your donation is tax-deductible
-Wired donations are the norm
-Be skeptical of charitable solicitations that come via email even if you haven’t signed up to receive electronic communications from said charity or organization
Unfortunately, scams within charitable organizations are often times way more common than you may actually think. Following these simple tips will help you to make smarter decisions when choosing, donating and volunteering time at charitable organizations that could potentially be harmful to the cause.