Making your gift count
Try these links for charitable giving resources and information:
Even in a bad economy, women in the Triangle still reach deep into their pockets to assist those who are less fortunate, especially during the holiday season.
It’s important to know that the money you’re donating is being put to good use. Many con artists try to cheat people out of their dollars by pretending to be involved in a legitimate charitable organization. The N.C. Association of Certified Public Accountants, based in Raleigh, offers these questions to ask to avoid scams.
Can you repeat the name of your group?
Many impostor operations choose names that sound just like well-known charities in order to trick people into trusting them.
If you’re uncertain about whom you’re dealing with, contact the better-known group to see if the solicitation is really from them.
Should I respond to this e-mail?
Many con artists use e-mail to solicit cash for phony charities, so do some research before sending funds in response to an online appeal. Never reveal any personal or account information in an e-mail.
Do I have to donate to win a prize?
Some groups tell you that your contribution qualifies you to enter a contest for valuable booty. But, it’s actually illegal to require you to make a donation in order to win a prize.
Bucks given to organizations that use this come-on are probably not going to those in need. And the “contest” is likely bogus, as well.
Find out also whether your financial gift is tax-deductible, as it should be when made to a legitimate nonprofit.
Can you give me details in writing?
A reputable organization is happy to supply you with written information that covers its address and contact details, the kinds of work it is involved in and whether your contribution will be tax-deductible. You can also learn more about individual philanthropies through the Better Business Bureau at www.give.org. If the group refuses to provide any information — or gives hazy answers about its mission or its tax-exempt status — keep your money in your pocket.
How much of my money really goes to charity?
Find out if the person or group asking for the infusion of your capital is a paid fundraiser and how many of your greenbacks will actually go to those in need, rather than pay for salaries or other administrative costs.
Go to www.charitynavigator.org to see ratings of individual philanthropies and full reports on how their cash is spent.
How long have you been in business?
Every day, the news brings compelling pictures and words about natural and manmade disasters as well as other problems that leave people in need.
Charitable organizations often spring up out of nowhere to lend a hand, but even if their intentions are good, giving to a brand-new group may not be the best idea. That’s because the group may not have the experience necessary to get the job done. Your hard-earned dollars may be better spent by an organization with a long history of responding to similar situations.
Remember, too, that disasters often bring out fraudulent crews trying to take advantage of the public’s generosity.