Do Your Research Before Picking a Charity for Year-End Giving

Do Your Research Before Picking a Charity for Year-End Giving

( – As the holiday season approaches, people generally get into the spirit of giving beyond their family and loved ones. In fact, the end of November marks the official beginning of philanthropy with Giving Tuesday, motivating kind souls to give to their favorite causes or help those less fortunate than themselves. But with the rise of charitable giving, so does the number of scams, and it’s important to know how to protect yourself.

Recently, CNBC provided some tips to help you ensure your money goes exactly where you intend. CharityWatch Executive Director Laurie Styron encourages people to take their time when picking a charity and not fall victim to high-pressure tactics. If someone is pushing with a hard sell to donate, it’s likely “not a good charity.”

It’s also essential to vet each charity before parting with your hard-earned money. US News suggested identifying the organization’s mission, reviewing its Form 990 — an annual IRS filing — reading the charity’s annual report and audit, determining what results the entity has reached over time, and talking to someone from the charity to get a feel for it.

Styron offered another suggestion to ensure your money goes to the proper place. She advised donors to give directly to the charity instead of using a middleman. That way, you’re not supporting the charity using money for administration fees and ensuring your money gets to its destination. Look for extra words added to the entity — like “foundation” — or an extra letter in the name that your eyes might skip over at first glance.

But before giving to any charity, be sure it’s not a scam. Some of these false organizations will mimic an actual charity, fooling well-meaning people into giving them cash. So, double-check everything to ensure you’re donating to the actual charity. IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search, Guidestar, Charity Navigator,, and Google News can help you research the legitimacy of an organization.

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