Always Do the Research: It’s very easy to fall prey to a sweet story, but it’s important to make sure that you know exactly what the charity stands for and that they are transparent on how they distribute the money you donate. Check sites like the Wise Giving Alliance, Charitynavigator.org or Guidestar to get the skinny on the organization. If in doubt, find a branch of the charity and donate some of your time before you donate your dollars.
Speak Up: If you feel like your chosen charity is dealing in funny business, report the situation as soon as possible. If it’s a local charity, make sure to contact your local police department and file a report. If the organization is nationally recognized, contact the Better Business Bureau and file a complaint.
Protect Yourself: Do not give credit card information over the phone and most importantly, do not give cash. Your best bet is to give on the Internet through secure channels like PayPal. Checks are still acceptable forms of payment and a surefire receipt of giving.