There are many ways to support causes that are close to your heart and align with your values. If you choose to donate money to charity, here are some tips to ensure your dollars make the impact you intend.

1. Do your research

If you have a cause in mind but aren’t sure which organization you’d like to support, you may discover something new. Even if you are considering a particular organization, researching reviews and ratings can reveal some surprising facts. For example, you may find that an organization you thought was a non-profit is actually a for-profit company, so not only would a donation not be tax-deductible for you, but the money may not be benefiting the cause you intended.

Here are some resources to help your research:

BBB Wise Giving Alliance

Charity Navigator

CharityWatch

GuideStar

 

2. Pay safely

If you’re making a tax-deductible donation, you’ll need a receipt or record of your donation. Pay by check or credit card, never with cash, gift card, or wire transfer. Reputable organizations care as much about having a record of donations as you do, so if they are pressuring you to pay in some other way, chances are they are not legit.

If you are donating online especially, double check to be sure the amount you were charged is the amount you agreed to, and that the frequency matches your choice (one-time or recurring).

 

3. Beware of scams

Unfortunately, scammers employ many tactics. The good news is if you are vigilant about the warning signs in general, you’re more likely to spot them whenever and wherever they appear.

  • Don’t fall for look-alikes. Scammers use names that are very similar to familiar ones, in hopes that you won’t notice the difference. It could be as small as a one-letter difference in a website name or email address.
  • If they called you, be suspicious. Anyone can say they are calling from a reputable company, but you have no way of knowing. Never give your credit card number or any personal information to someone who called you. Instead, hang up and call the organization directly. Any legit company will understand and will not be upset. If they pressure or threaten you, hang up.

Once you’ve done your research, you can give confidently knowing your dollars are supporting good causes.