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How to check out a charity before you donate

Do your research before opening your wallet.

Nov. 26, 2018

'Tis the giving season and there are plenty of charities that can use some financial help. Just be careful before you make a donation.

You want to make sure the organization you plan to give to is licensed to solicit money in Washington. Check the Secretary of State's website.

Make sure they'll use their money wisely. Sites like Give.org, run by the Better Business Bureau, Charity Navigator and CharityWatch make it easy to find out how a non-profit spends the money it raises. Charity Navigator uses a star system to rate each charity.

Watch out for sound-alike names: Lots of groups have cancer, children, heart or veterans in their name. Fraudsters create similar names to fool you into giving to them.

Don't give money to someone who just shows up at your door. You have no idea if they’re really with a legitimate charity.

Don't respond to a caller on the phone. There’s no way to know who you’re talking to. If you are interested in learning more, ask to be sent information. Any legitimate charity will be happy to do that.

More Info:

BBB: Basic Giving Tips

FTC: How to Donate Wisely and Avoid Charity Scams

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