Tell me a bit about yourself
The more you know about a charity to which you are considering lending your support, the better. For one thing it helps to protect your privacy and security, but it’s also important to know exactly where your money is going so you can be sure it’s being used in a way that you truly support.
The Better Business Bureau suggests that you ask the following five questions before donating to a charity:
- Can I trust you? Don’t be fooled by scams or bogus websites. Read our article on online security for more information on how to protect yourself when donating online.
- How will you use my donation? If they’ve brought you to tears with emotional appeals but haven’t actually told you exactly how your money is going to be used, beware. It’s easy for a charity to say they help the homeless, but it’s important to know how, when and in what form this help comes—and how your money factors in. Websites like Charity Navigator, which evaluates the financial health and accountability of registered American charities, can help you find this kind of information.
- Is my donation tax deductable? If you want to use a donation for tax deduction purposes you will have to ensure that the charity you’re interested in supporting is registered. Visit the IRS, Canada Revenue Agency, or HM Revenue & Customs to find lists of registered charities in your country.
- Can you actually use what I’m donating? All charities welcome monetary donations, but some also accept what’s called “in-kind” donations—items like clothing, food or furniture, for example. Before heading out to a charity loaded up with cans of tuna or your grandma’s old rocking chair, check to make sure that they accept what you want to donate. Many charities post wish lists of items they specifically need on their websites for those interested in making in-kind donations.
- Are you making me feel pressured to give? Yes, charities want and need your support, but they should never demand that you give without giving you an opportunity to make an informed decision. Take all the time you need to research a charity you’re interested in supporting so that you feel comfortable, secure and safe when you sign that check. If someone comes to your door asking for a donation, it’s perfectly okay to ask if they can leave you some literature or give you the charity’s website address so you can look into the cause more thoroughly at your leisure.
The more you know about where your hard-earned money is going, the better. When you take the time to do a bit of research, it means that legitimate charities that help people right in your very own community have a chance of getting the support they need from generous people like you.
409503 CAN/US (04/15)