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Donating your time, money, or needed items to a charity organization is a great way to give back to communities on a local or even international scale.  Depending on the cause you want to support, you have a number of ways to give back, whether its volunteer work or donating something of monetary value. Either way, you’ll always want to make sure that you’re choosing the right organization to work with, whatever the cause may be.  Unfortunately, while philanthropy should be positive and honest all around, there are organizations out there that claim to be charitable but are more focused on scamming donators, than helping others. Here are the best ways to spot if a charity is a scam:

Do Your Research

Any time you’re considering donating to a charity organization that may be new to you, you always want to make sure you do the proper research.  When a solicitor reaches out, whether it’s by mail, e-mail, phone, or in person, it can sometimes be difficult to differentiate what’s legitimate, and what isn’t; especially if there’s a good storyline attached to it.  A few simple Google searches can help you conduct the necessary research and tell if an organization is honest, or a true scam. Search for reviews and the charity website. You can even go as far as using a charity-monitoring site, that will help you determine if an organization is legitimate or not.  

Ask Questions

Charity scammers will do what they can to make their work seem truthful; including using sensitive topics that will surely pull at your heartstrings.  If you think you’re interacting with a scammer, ask as many questions about the organization as possible. Ask where exactly the donations are going, and how they will be used.  Statistical information, as well as identification for the organizations, such as address, phone number, etc. are also great questions to ask. It’s likely, a scammer may not have all of this information, or may try to distract you by avoiding the questions.

Reach Out

If you’re solicited for a charitable donation, there’s nothing that says you need to give at the exact time of solicitation.  If you want to actively donate, but want to do a little digging first, especially if it’s an organization that you’ve never heard of, you can reach out to the charity directly.  Find out if the organization has been made aware of the collection efforts, and speak to any staff that may be able to assist you. If you’re unable to reach a HQ or home office, you’re likely dealing with some type of scam.

Giving back can be so rewarding; however, it’s important that your efforts are going to a good cause, and aren’t being put to waste.