The world is full of generous people who are willing to share pieces of their world with the less fortunate. All too often, disaster strikes and people are left homeless and hungry. Most are without anything to sustain them. It could have been due to a natural catastrophe, financial downfall, or numerous other unfortunate incidents.
While it’s uplifting that anyone is willing to reach out and help these people, not every so-called charitable organization shares the same sentiment. As quickly as disaster strikes, frauds and criminals are there. They are waiting to take your money in the name of charity. So, to help you give to the right people, here are some tips on how to donate to charity.
What You Can Donate
Most people assume that being charitable is about giving cold hard cash to big-name organizations, but there are many types of acceptable donations. Of course, there is nothing wrong with a monetary donation and it’s actually the most common type. Be sure to pay with a check or credit card so that you have accurate records and to protect yourself against scams. You can also donate tangible goods, such as household items and clothes. Americans only recycle or donate 15% of their clothing every ear. The other 10.5 million tons of clothing ends up in landfills, which gives textiles one of the lowest recycling rates of reusable materials. Giving clothing to those without much can keep them warm and comfortable during cold nights. Other types of donations could be automobiles, jewelry, art, stocks, real estate, and patents.
How to Avoid Charity Scammers
It can be hard spotting the scams from the legitimate charities, and it’s unfortunate you’d even have to do so in the first place. However, there are many ways you can help protect yourself from people who just want your money and make sure it gets into deserving hands. Here are a few tips to avoid scammers:
Do your research: Before opening up your checkbook, do extensive research on the organization you plan on donating to. You can verify the authenticity of suspicious organizations via your state charity regulation agency, or by checking sites such as Charity Navigator, Charity Watch, and GuideStar.
Unsolicited is usually a red flag: Someone may call you asking for donations and claiming to be from an organization. It’s good practice to assume they aren’t genuine. If you’ve donated to a charity in the past and given them your contact information, that’s okay. Most legitimate charities don’t “cold call” for donations.
See who others give to: A good tip is to look at businesses, organizations, and people who you know or admire to see who they give their money to. Not everyone is a charity expert and sometimes even the big guys get it wrong, but it’s a good bet that they’ve done all of the research and vetting for you already.
Use Good Judgement When Donating
Above all else, use your better judgment when entertaining the thought of donating. If you keep in mind that not every charity is all that charitable, then you will be better equipped at spotting the ones that aren’t.
Even if you don’t think you have anything to give, give something. You’re most likely in a better spot then the people who need your help. It’s never your obligation to give to the less fortunate. Just remember, the average American creates more than four pounds of supposed garbage every day. Some of the things you throw out could be exactly what someone else needs to survive. So before you toss something, or pass up an opportunity to donate, think about whether or not it could make a difference to someone else.
Join our newsletter
Subscribe to get the latest "Engineer Your Finances" content via email.