by Rosario Méndez, Attorney, Division of Consumer and Business Education, FTC
Thanks to COVID-19, many charitable organizations are faced with greater demand for their services, but less in donations as people have less to give. Now, more than ever, it’s important to make sure that your donation will be used wisely and well. Tomorrow is Giving Tuesday, and as you consider new places to send your donations, now and throughout the holiday season, don’t forget these four tips for giving wisely:
- Search online for the cause you care about — like “help COVID victims” or “homeless kids” — plus phrases like “best charity” or “highly rated charity.” Once you find a specific charity you’re considering giving to, search for its name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.” If you find red flags, it might be best to find another organization.
- Check out the charity’s website. Does it give information about the programs you want to support, or how it uses donations? How much of your donation will go directly to support the programs you care about? If you can’t find detailed information about a charity’s mission and programs, be suspicious.
- Use one of these organizations to help you research charities: BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and GuideStar. The IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search tells you if your donation would be tax deductible.
- See what your state’s charity regulator has to say about the charity. Don’t know who that is? Look it up at nasconet.org.
Donating on social media or through a crowdfunding campaign? Don’t assume solicitations on social media or crowdfunding campaigns are legitimate — even posts that are shared or liked by your friends. Do your own research. Contact your friends offline to ask them about the post they shared. And remember that crowdfunding campaigns are not tax deductible.