Charities or Charletans?

COLLEEN MAY

What kind-hearted person doesn’t feel happy when donating to charity? However, charitable giving may require a little more work to make sure your money goes where you actually want it to go. Recently, news articles and websites have exposed charity scams that take advantage of good-natured people by using donation money for costs other than the programs they claim to provide and sometimes even for their own personal gain.

 

That being said, a large majority of charities are, in fact, trying their best to provide the services they say they are, but how do you avoid the dishonest organizations? Luckily, there are groups that specialize in keeping track of nonprofits and charities. Website like CharityWatch and Charity Navigator as well as the US Federal Trade Commission offer in-depth statistics on charities regarding their donation funds, fundraising budgets, operation costs and overall money spent on programs and services. If a non-profit organization asks for money directly, say over the phone or in an email, be cautious when dealing with groups with “sound-alike” names, names that closely resemble well-known charities, and groups that will not go into detail about their mission, identity or costs even if asked.

 

What should we take away from all this? Should we avoid giving to charity because we fear it might not actually be helping the cause? Of course not. As mentioned before, most charities really are trying to do good in the world. When thinking about giving to charity, start with what causes, not individual charities, you want to support, then work from there. You don’t have to donate to a big-name charity when a smaller, lesser-known charity could better represent the causes you want to support and may do it even more efficiently. There are charities for nearly every cause imaginable and with only a little bit of research, they can help your money be effective in improving the world.

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