Give Charity Donations Safely

Before you give donations to any charity, make sure you take all the necessary precautions to insure your money goes where you intended it to. This also helps to keep you safe from identity theft and fraud.


  1. Know your rights. That is, the Donor Bill of Rights. There are certain things that donors are entitled to from non-profits like information about where their money is going and answers to questions. Read the Donor Bill of Rights and familiarize yourself with it so that you are a more educated donor when looking for charities. You may want to print out a copy and keep it for your records.
  2. Research the charity first. It’s always good to make sure you’re donating to a legitimate non-profit organization.
  3. Ask for the name, address, phone number and whether or not the charity is registered. If the presenter claims that it’s registered, get a registration number. An established foundation usually provides the names of the Board of Directors and general contact information.
  4. Ask for a copy of their annual report and read over the non-profit's financial information.These are available on-line from organizations like "Guidestar" listed below. If 10% or more of a non-profit's income goes toward expenses then your donation may not be benefiting those the charity claims to help.
  5. Make sure the website of the charity you’re donating to uses encryption technology before entering any sensitive information (i.e. credit card number or bank draft info).
  6. Always look at the charity’s privacy policy concerning the use of your personal information. Know who’s collecting your information and how they plan to use it.
  7. Get a receipt! This allows you to document your donation for tax reasons, and for your own personal records. Not to mention if anything ever does arise, you’ll have the proper “paper trail.�?
  8. Be wary of email solicitations. Always be cautious when you receive a charity donation request by email. Some legitimate charities will email people who have donated before, but never respond to requests where you’ve never donated, unless you are familiar with the organization.
  9. To ultimately ensure your money goes where you intend it to go, you should always donate directly to the organization.
  10. Be wary of organizations that seem to exist just to promote the non-profit's head or spokesperson. A non-profit should focus on the beneficiaries of its mission.
  11. If you have questions or concerns contact your State's Attorney General's Office. If you have a concern, the chances are good that others have had concerns too.


  • A good way to tell a site uses encryption technology is to view the URL- http:// (not secure), https:// (secure). Also, there should be a key or padlock symbol located in the corner of the web browser. If you're ever in doubt, you should contact the charity by telephone or by e-mail BEFORE you provide your information online.
  • People of some religions believe in tithing. Generally speaking, this involves giving ten percent of all the money your earn to charitable causes. If you believe in this approach, this article will help you find many good places to spread your blessings.
  • Make sure you get a thank-you letter for your tax records.
  • The Internet provides numerous opportunities to support the charity of your choice directly. If your charity doesn’t take donations on their Website, consider giving thru Network For Good, which provides all registered charities in the U.S. the ability to receive online donations. Another good option is Guidestar -
  • In the UK you can gain independent information on charities from two sites: and
  • In the UK you can also check if a charity is a member of the Fundraising Standards Board (FRSB). Its members have signed up to a fundraising promise and abide by codes of practice when they are fundraising. Go to their site to check what charities are members:
  • Checking to see how much money is spent for every dollar raised is a very simplistic way of checking financial efficiency. Ten to 20 cents (US) is a fair range, and if it's above this the organization may be wasteful in its fundraising campaign. However financial efficiency is not the more important indicator of a charity's value. The quality of its work is far more important, and the best way to judge that is to closely read their reporting and, ideally, to see the work for yourself.
  • The IRS has become much more strict about charitable deductions, so it pays to know the requirements and to collect your paperwork throughout the year, rather than to wait until it is time to file.


  • Never follow a link through an email to donate, unless you know the person asking for the donation, as there are legitimate third-party services that work with charities. If you are not sure, contact the charity directly!
  • Never donate to an organization that refuses to give you a copy of it's annual report. Refusal to publicize financial information may mean that the non-profit is hiding something.
  • Never let anyone guilt you into donating to a cause you don't want to. Giving to charity is a personal practice that many people use to bring meaning to their life. People should respect your priorities as a donor.

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