Be careful who you donate to

Photo credit: Rewon Shimray

One of the best parts of the holiday season is the spirit of giving. During this special time of the year, we feel a need to give back to others and make sure that everyone feels special.

As important as it is to give to others during this holiday season, we must be careful who we donate to. Sadly, there are organizations that try to take advantage of those who are trying to do a good deed by donating to them. To avoid this, be sure that you are donating to a worthy and real cause.

A way that you can avoid scams in researching the organization that you are going to donate to and make sure that they do not have a history of fraud. One of the major organizations that has had a track record of fraud is the American Red Cross. Here in the United States, the American Red Cross is a household name when it comes to donating to others. However, what many do not know is that the American Red Cross has a record of fraudulence.

Two weeks ago, the Red Cross reported fraud of over $6 million that was supposed to go to those who were suffering from Ebola in Africa. According to ABC News, “as much as $2.13 million disappeared as the result of ‘likely collusion’ between Red Cross staff and employees at a Sierra Leonean bank, the investigation found. It is believed that the money was lost when they improperly fixed the exchange rate at the height of the epidemic.”

Another way to avoid these situations is to stay away from GoFundMe pages. Sadly, this is a major avenue for scams to happen. There are people that have created blogs to help expose the fraud of GoFundMe pages. GoFraudMe is a blog that has a list of fraudulent GoFundMe pages. You can check this blog for an array of GoFundMe pages that are fake. This site also has a resource that tracks the locations from which these fake pages are being managed.

There are fake campaigns for refugees, families with ill children and even to police officers. It is best to know exactly where the money where you are donating is going so that you aren’t giving it to a fake cause. Thankfully, there is a refund policy on GoFundMe. If your money has been donated to a false cause, GoFundMe will donate it.

In order to prevent donating to fake causes, go to their website and check their about page. Verify that the information is accurate and the website doesn’t look quickly thrown together.

To verify the validity of a nonprofit organization, Kevin Collins, the CEO of the Better Business Bureau, has a suggestion. Collins said you can request to see a copy of the company’s Form 990 online or request a copy to see the organization’s cash flow. The organization is legally required to provide it. You can use this information to verify whether or not a nonprofit organization is real and it helps to see where the money that you spend is going.

This is the season for giving. Be sure that you verify the credibility of the organization that you are giving to. Don’t let fraud be a reason why someone isn’t blessed this holiday season.