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The giving season has begun and many of us are thinking about gifts for family and friends, as well as giving to our favorite charitable causes. If you’re thinking about donating to charity, do some research first to make sure your money will really help the causes you care about. Here’s what you can do:

  1. Do some research online. Search for the cause you care about – like “hurricane relief” or “homeless kids” – and phrases like “best charity” or “highly rated charity.”
  2. When you find an organization that interests you, search its name plus “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” or “scam.”
  3. Then, look at the reports and ratings about that charity at BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and GuideStar. These sources can help you confirm that you want to donate to that organization.
  4. Check with your state charity regulator to make sure the organization is registered with them – something that most states require. Find their contact information at nasconet.org.

Why is this research important? Because you want your charitable gifts to help as much as possible. Donating to a sham charity only benefits the scammers who get your money. At the FTC we see – and sue – sham charities that take millions of dollars from donors and don’t use it for charity like they say they would. To make sure your donation counts, pick your cause with your heart, and pick the organization you support with your head. Check out FTC.gov/Charity to learn more.

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1 Comments


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The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to ReportFraud.ftc.gov.

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

True Grit
November 26, 2018
WAY too many scams out there that greatly dilute legitimate causes. I, for one, no longer have the time or inclination to do all the research necessary to educate myself on my funding worthy causes, so we are forced to curtail our giving. A nasty sign of our times- - -