Avoiding Charity Fraud

How do you know when someone is sincere pertaining to asking for donations for different organizations?

By claraetta Olney from Tyrone, OK



November 13, 20090 found this helpful

Clairetta, I know that some may not agree with this, but, I had to make a stand because of too many problems with scamming us. I just will not send any money through the internet, the telephone, the mail, and door to door, never again.

I will only do this by my terms for contacting who I believe are legitimate charities, and even then researching them, it can still be questionable if they are real or not, especially on the internet. I also prefer to volunteer directly at sites.

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November 13, 20090 found this helpful

The people you need to be especially careful of are the ones that go door to door. In Seattle/Tacoma we've recently had problems with people taking advantage of the Homeless by getting them to go door to door collecting funds for bogus charities. Sometimes they sell subscriptions & the family that orders & pays for them never receive the magazines. Many of these "door to door" people prefer cash to checks.

If it's a local charity, call or go online to your states Attorney General's office or the Better Business Bureau. If it's a Christian Charity, all of the good ones join a special organization that's independent & looks at their books each year & makes public just how much of the money actually goes back to the charity. Avoid the people that call on the phone for the Police & Firefighters fundraisers because the fundraisers get nearly 80 percent of the funds while the firefighters get only 20 % or less. These guys are professional fundraisers, hired to make money & paid a very high percentage of the money collected.

You are much better off just sending your money directly to a Police or Firefighters charity & not though the professional fundraisers. A good charity will have at least 80% if not more of the money raised will go back into the actual charity & less than 20 % on advertising! Back during the 1980's I used to donate on a regular basis to "Christian Aid for Romania" & over 95% of the money went to helping the poor in Romania because all of the work was done by volunteers. The only money spent, was in buying bulk food (which the volunteers put into smaller individual packages) & shipping the food over-seas.

Here's several of the over-watch organizations:
Ministry Watch (A donor advocate that independently researches and rates Christian ministries in the USA)

Any good Charity will offer you a way to look at their books. Just ask "How much money goes to the cause" & Can you verify this? They will have a quick way to verify that they are indeed a Charity on the "up & up"... & this should be verified by an independent organization. Also, don't forget, if it's in your state you can always call your state Attorney General or the BBB.

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November 13, 20090 found this helpful

I refuse to give to any charity that askd me for money. I explain that I have my own charities that I contribute to and I am not asking you to contribute to my charities. I have 6 charities I contribute to every year.

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November 14, 20090 found this helpful

Ditto what has been said so far. I am very leery of the solicitations from mail, email, phone and door to door. Too many non legit ones especially this time of year and in these hard times. I pick the charites myself like Kas2 said and after doing research online. I tend to stick to familiar names or local charities and small charities. And ones that don't sell my name out.

Here is another link to check out charities:

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November 14, 20090 found this helpful

Thank you to everyone who has responded to my question. I know what you mean about people selling your name to other charities. anyone. I hate to say this, but I know from an experience a friend had, she donated to one charity, and the next thing she knew her mail box was overloaded with mail from people asking for donations. She didn't have that trouble before, so she knows this charity sold her name and address to other charities. It's a shame we have so many people who will take advantage of others. Because of this, the people who really need money don't get it.

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November 15, 20090 found this helpful

The best way to avoid charity fraud is to hunt down the charity of your choice instead of giving to every so called charity that contacts you. If the charity is established like the Salvation Army, it is a better than an individual. A charity such as a local food bank is also a good choice. Food banks help many people who are struggling in today's economy. Churches often have food and clothing banks that you may donate to.

If you are short on money but you have a lot of clothes that you may be dreaming of getting back into someday, those clothes could go to a clothing bank in your area. The police department in your area might have some good suggestions. They tend to end up helping needy people find the food and clothing banks. Do not send money just because you have received a letter or an email asking you to do so. Choose your own charity to give to and ignore the rest.

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November 15, 20090 found this helpful

In Canada, you can check to see if a charity is legitimate by checking the Charities Directorate on the government website. Legitimate charities are registered and have a BN number.

I checked the US gov page, and there is a "Search for Charities" link on

I would not give money at the door. If the charity proved legitimate after checking the above, I would mail a donation if I liked the cause. Then you know it went to the charity for sure.

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November 16, 20090 found this helpful

Even when you donate to a legitimate charity, you have no way of knowing how much of your donation actually goes to the purpose for which it was intended. Sometimes money is eaten away by salary and distribution costs. Also, if you donate to a charity in another country, sometimes the government in that country seizes the food or other items so it doesnt get to the needy citizens.

For those reasons, I only donate money to a church of a recognized, legitimate denomination. More of the money will go to needy people when intentions are good. Church World Service is another organization that seems to provide food and medical help to those in need. Be very, very careful.

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Read More Answers


September 11, 2005

Phony charitable organizations started being reported after 9-11 and then again after the Tsunami. CNN reported this morning that there are 2,000 or so websites that have sprung up that are phony Katrina disaster relief organizations.


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