These days, charities and fundraisers (groups that solicit funds on behalf of organizations) use the phone, face- to-face contact, email, the internet (including social networking sites), and mobile devices to solicit and obtain donations. Naturally, scammers use these same methods to take advantage of your goodwill. Regardless of how they reach you, avoid any charity or fundraiser where any of the following apply:
Refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs, and how the donation will be used.
Report Charity Scams
If you think you’ve been the victim of a charity scam or if a fundraiser has violated Do Not Call rules, file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission. Your complaints can help detect patterns of wrong-doing and lead to investigations and prosecutions.
When donations aren’t deductible: While it’s very low on your consideration list after a national tragedy, not every donation to help victims is tax deductible.
Among the rules for charitable giving is that itemized donations only can be claimed if they’re made to organizations that receive 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status from the IRS. The Internal Revenue Code specifically disallows a tax deduction for gifts to individuals.
That means if you give to a fund created to help an individual, it might help that person and his or her family, but you get no tax benefit for your gift. It doesn’t matter how valid, trustworthy and worthwhile the effort for the needy person(s).
If you still want to give to such an assistance effort and are satisfied that a fund created for the benefit of a single person (or his or her family) is worthwhile, great.
But, just to be sure, do not give money directly to the person soliciting your financial aid. Make sure that your gift goes into a bank account established for the folks who need it.
Charity Donation Checklist
Take the following precautions to make sure your donation benefits the people and organizations you want to help.