December 17, 2018
You’re probably getting a barrage of solicitations for year-end charitable donations. Keep in mind: Just because a group calls itself a non-profit doesn’t mean they’re legitimate or that you want to give them your money.
Don’t rush and don’t let anyone pressure you to respond immediately. Legitimate charities don’t do that.
“Pause, always pause, and do some homework and then decide to give,” advises Eileen Heisman, CEO of the National Philanthropic Trust.
Remember: It’s OK to say no, even to a heart-wrenching appeal, especially if it’s a phone call out of the blue. You have no idea who’s on the other end of the line.
“I never donate money on the phone and I suggest you don’t donate money on the phone either,” Heisman said.
Names can be confusing. Watch out for sound-alike names. Questionable groups and scammers often choose names that sound like famous, well-known charities.
"A lot of the fraud that takes place in charities is when people pick names that sound like famous, well-known charities that do great jobs,” Heisman told me. “If you're looking at cancer charities or veterans’ charities or charities that help kids, be really careful that it's really the charity you're thinking of and not ones that's been created just to fool you."
You can check out a charity at these sites: Give.org, Charity Navigator and CharityWatchdog. And check the Secretary of State’s website to make sure that group is registered to raise money in Washington, as is required by law.