A: Many people are inspired to reach into their pocket to help the less fortunate during the holiday season. Unfortunately, this is also the season when scam artists try to take advantage of that compassion. With a little caution, you can keep the holiday spirit and help worthy causes.
First and foremost, use your head along with your heart. Don’t give in to high pressure solicitations. Legitimate charities won’t mind taking the time to answer your questions and to provide you with literature about their organization.
Ask questions! Know who will benefit from your donation. How much of your donation will actually go toward the cause rather than administrative and fundraising costs? If it is important to you, find out if your donation is tax deductible.
Beware of requests for donations by phone. Don’t make impulsive decisions. Ask for information to be mailed to you. And never give your credit card number to a solicitor over the phone.
There are several charity watchdog organizations that can help you distinguish between good charities and bad charities. Check out these: