Before breaking out your checkbook and signing your savings
over to an anonymous charity fund, use a little common sense
and do some investigating. Following these tips from the
Federal Trade Commission won’t hurt either.
The best thing you can do is give to organizations with
which you are familiar:
chapter of the Red Cross
organization with a mission and management team you can
Beware that similar groups may not sponsor funds with
similar names. For instance, a fund called The Red Cross
Trust For Freedom and Peace may not be affiliated with
the Red Cross.
If you’re not sure about a charity, check it out
before sending money. Even during these sensitive times,
circumspect entities are hoping to take advantage of good-hearted
Research Before You Give
To research potential charities, contact:
If you’re interested in donating directly online,
you can locate various charities through American
Liberty Partnership's website.
Take the same cautious approach when someone calls you on
You’ll probably want to give your donation
directly to the organization, because solicitors
cost money – money that doesn’t go to the victims
or their families.
If you do donate over the phone, give absolutely
no personal or financial information. If someone
asks you for details such as your social security number
or bank account information, hang up and contact the organization
directly to report this incident. The last thing you want
is to give to a charity and have your identity stolen in
If someone claiming to be from the police or fire department
calls you, keep in mind that even if the soliciting group
claims to have ties to your community, there is
no guarantee that your money will be used locally
or even for neighborhood safety programs.
And don’t be tempted by promises of special
treatment for donating – you’re still
getting that ticket for speeding whether you donate or not.
Although there are many noble causes sponsored by police
and fire departments, no solicitor should make you feel
pressured into donating. Ironically, any one who does should
be reported to the authorities.
Ask questions and demand answers. Request written
information about the charity and how it will use your money.
In the end, make your check (no cash, of course)
payable to the formal name of the charity.
An important issue to bear in mind, particularly at year-end,
is whether your gift is tax deductible. A gift to a tax-exempt
group (one that does not have to pay taxes) may not be deductible
from your federal income tax return. Therefore, always
ask for a receipt indicating the amount of your contribution
and noting that it is deductible
Remember - giving a gift to charity is
worthy but making sure that your gift is used for those
in need is priceless.