According to the AARP, Americans gave more than $471 billion to charity in 2020. Unfortunately, there are some people out there who are happy to take advantage of generous hearts, so you need to use your head when you decide to give. Learning how to avoid charity scams is vital if you want to be sure that your hard-earned money is going to be put to good use.
How to Avoid Charity Scams
Scammers are clever and persistent, and they often seem like nice people. How can you protect yourself from their games and make sure that your charitable donations are going where you want them to? When it comes to dodging charity scammers, a dual approach can be your best protection. Start by using tips for avoiding charity scams when vetting where to send your donations. Combine this with advice for giving wisely so that you’re feeling truly confident about your decisions.
Tips for Avoiding Charity Scams
Scammers have all kinds of tricks up their sleeves, but as the Federal Trade Commission indicates, you can outsmart them if you’re paying attention. Use these tips:
- Do your homework. Before donating, spend some time researching the charity online. Don’t forget to search for the charity’s name and any reports of complaints or scams. Also, use resources like Give.org, Charity Navigator, Candid, and Charity Watch to check out the organization that you’re considering.
- Pay carefully. Scammers often request donations via cash, gift card, or wire transfer. Choose to donate with a check or credit card instead. It’s safer and creates a paper trail for your records.
- Keep a record of donations, and make sure everything matches. Keep a record of all your donations. Then, verify that everything is going as planned. Watch that the amounts are what you expected. Make sure that one-time donations don’t turn into recurring charges.
- Be mindful of scammer’s tricks. Scammers will often try to rush you or create a sense of pressure. They may tell you that you’ve donated previously, use a name that seems familiar because it is similar to another charity, or adopt a local area code. They may offer a prize or make sentimental claims. If something feels off, don’t donate.
Advice for Giving Wisely
Taking the time to weigh your options and draft a plan generally makes it easier to avoid potential missteps and produces better results. How can you apply this to your charitable giving? Utah State University offers the following suggestions:
- Create a budget for giving. Know how much you plan to give so that donating won’t create a financial strain. Making donations part of your budget can also remind you to keep records.
- Be informed. Choose charities carefully. Do your research, and evaluate any approach. Before donating, check how donations are divided between operating costs and the organization’s mission.
- Avoid middlemen. Donations should never be payable to the person collecting for the charity. They should always be payable to the charity. In fact, you may prefer to avoid the middleman. Instead, go straight to your preferred charity to make your donation.
- Say no if you’re not completely comfortable. If your instincts suggest that something is off, say no. There are plenty of opportunities to give, so it’s best to find another choice.
Giving back feels good. It’s empowering and uplifting when you use your resources to lend a helping hand to something that matters to you. Whether it is people in need after a recent disaster or a cause that has touched your heart, you want to ensure that your donation will reach the right place. As maddening as it is that scammers are always scampering around, trying to siphon funds away from legitimate charities, it’s good to know that you have the tools to stop them. When it comes to charitable giving, be smart. Don’t rush in. Do your research, and have a plan. Keep records, and watch for anything unexpected. Be mindful of a scammer’s tricks, and say no if it doesn’t feel right. With that approach, you can give with confidence.
If you’re looking for a new home where you can enjoy your golden years, check out The Shores of Lake Phalen in Maplewood, Minnesota. Located in a wooded setting near two lakes, our community offers apartment-style housing with the atmosphere and elegance of a resort. Thanks to the team of dedicated staff members, residents enjoy a carefree lifestyle without the common worries of running a household. Schedule a tour to explore our community or give us a call at 651-777-7784. We look forward to hearing from you!