COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The holiday season is the most charitable time of the year.
And as many families struggle through the coronavirus crisis this year, many charities are faced with an overwhelming need for donations.
But before you give this Giving Tuesday, make sure your money goes to a legitimate cause. That’s something Charity Navigator has strived for since 2001, and Director of Marketing and Communications, Stacy Steele said there are some easy ways to do that.
“Always, always use a 501(c)(3). I cannot stress that enough,” said Steele.
A 501(c)(3), according to the IRS, is a registered “charitable organization,” which will have an employer identification number (EIN) that you can use to verify its legitimacy.Many organizations list them on their websites.
“The easiest way and the fastest way is to ask the organization out right,” Steele said.
And watch for red flags from fraudulent organizations that reach out to you, like suspicious email addresses, constant phone calls asking for money, or a significant number of errors on their websites.
“Because, chances are, they are not who they claim to be.”
When it comes to making a monetary donation, Steele suggested writing a check or using a credit card, because those transactions can be traced or canceled, if necessary.
“You need to trust your instinct, that if someone is going to ask you for cash, and pressure you to hand over gift cards, or to send using a wire transfer, that’s not legitimate.”
If you make a donation and found out after the fact that it is fraudulent, report it to local law enforcement, the state attorney general’s office, and the Federal Trade Commission.
Charity Navigator’s website can help you find a legitimate, rated charity.