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I wholeheartedly believe in the power of philanthropy and giving back to your community. Aside from volunteering, the most common method of giving back is through monetary donations. Unfortunately, as our society moves closer and closer towards complete dependence on technology, hackers and scammers are becoming much more prevalent. I’d previously written a blog a few month’s back explaining how you can avoid everyday scams; this month, I’d like to discuss how to donate to charities without worrying about where your hard-earned dollars are actually going.

Cold Calls

A common tactic used by scammers is to cold call for charitable donations. While sometimes these callers are actually associated with the charity they claim to be, most of the time, these telemarketers have a deal with the charity that allows for the majority of the donation to go to the telemarketer, not the charity. If you are ever called by a “charity” looking for a donation, politely decline and end the call.

Don’t Be Pressured Into A Donation

So you’ve been looking into donating to a few charities, but you aren’t exactly certain which yet. Then, all of a sudden, you get a letter in the mail from a charity you’re considering donating to that pressures you into donating. Any genuine and respectable charitable organization would never pressure someone into giving money. When you donate, you should donate on your own terms and at your own time.

Do Some Research

Don’t just look up a charity online and read the reviews; do some real digging around to make sure that you are donating to a legitimate cause. It is highly recommended to ask for the charity’s Form 990 report. In short, a 990 report is a document filed by any charitable organization that details exactly how money is being spent. It’s a federal document that is filed and reported to the IRS. By law, charities are required to give it to any donors who ask, so if the charity is hesitant in providing a 990, get out of there! Once you have your hands on the 990, see exactly how the charity is using your money.

Most charities are legitimate, but in today’s world, it is far too easy to assume the best in people. There are plenty of scammers out there looking to take advantage of others. Don’t be fooled. Use these tips to make the most of your charitable contributions.