Ready to donate money to a nonprofit or fundraiser, but want to make sure it’s legit first? It’s a wise idea since social media feeds are full of new fundraising links and organizations to support right now, but how do you know which ones are legitimate? Do your research to make sure the group you’re sending money to isn’t a fraud. According toDelores Druilhet Morton, CEO of the nonprofit Step Up and Lelani Clark, a communications expert who works with nonprofits, this is how to vet them and red flags to watch out for.
- Use sites like Charity Navigator, GuideStar, Charity Watch and GoFundMe’s Twitter account- These will show an organization’s rating, how they compare to similar causes and how they use their money. If they spend 75% or more of their expenses on programs, not staff salaries, that’s a sign they’re spending wisely.
- Go to the group’s official website- Instead of clicking a link, head to the source and make sure they’re an official phone number and address. Many reputable nonprofits will have an actual seal of approval on their site from charity evaluation companies like GuideStar.
- Look at their mission statement, board of directors, staff, and corporate sponsors- Knowing who backs the fundraiser or nonprofit can lend credibility and help you understand their values.
- Read the reviews- You’d do it for a new restaurant you want to try, so do it for a group you want to support.
- Double and triple check the URL- To make sure you’re not the victim of a bait-and-switch scam, you’ll want to look for the HTTPS padlock in front of the URL. That shows it’s a secure site and also pay attention to tiny changes like using .net instead of .org.
- Don’t provide your social security number- If they ask you to do this or pay by cash, wire transfer or gift card, don’t do it.
- Take your time- One of the best things you can do is not rush before donating so you can make sure it’s safe and something you actually want to support.
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