Giving Tuesday: Tips on Choosing A Charity to Support

December 2, 2013 - Serving Seniors

December 3rd is Giving Tuesday, a worldwide effort to raise awareness and motivate action for the common good.  But it’s also prime time for scammers and cyber criminals to capitalize on the generosity of the public, especially during natural disaster events and set up fake charity sites and pocket the donations.

Here are a few TIPS on how to choose a legitimate organization and avoid being scammed. 

  • Do your research! Research an organization before you Giving Tuesdaydonate. There are a variety of online resources that provide free access to comprehensive reports about non-profit organizations. Start with a visit to California Attorney General’s Registry of Charitable Trusts (, Guidestar ( and Charity Navigator ( Plus, go to the organization’s website and really get a good understanding of what the charity does and who benefits from your donation.
  • Ask questions. Real charities are able to tell you how they use their donations and what portion of your contribution will go directly to the group they are trying to help. Ideally, at least 85 cents of every dollar raised should go directly to programs and services of the charitable organization, with the minimal amount remaining to underwrite things like rent, utilities and other operational expenses. Also, ask them for a 990 tax form. If they cannot give you this information – or hesitate for any reason in providing the document — don’t give them your money.
  • Do not send to a P.O. Box. Make sure the organization has an actual street address, where you can go and see the charity in action at anytime. Also, do not send cash and do not wire money.
  • Take precaution when donating online. Beware of phony websites and donate though a website that is secure by looking for “https” not “http.” Also, do not open unsolicited e-mail appeals because they can be an attempt to attain important personal information.
  • Ask for a tour. Or even better just show up unannounced. A reputable charity would be delighted to give you a tour on the spot.
  • There should be no hard sell. Walk away from anyone who says you must donate today or offers to come by your house to pick up a check.  A reputable charity will be delighted to accept a gift today, next week, next month or even next year.

To learn more about choosing a charity, watch Paul Downey’s interview on KUSI.

Why this is Important

San Diego was rated the most philanthropic by Charity Navigator in June 2013, so we know that residents have a kind heart. Often during this time of year, con artists take advantage of the generosity of San Diegans over the phone, via the mail, in person and online. These individuals take the hard-earned money for themselves, rather than for reputable and legitimate non-profit organizations that serve the most vulnerable in our community.

More About Giving Tuesday


6 responses to “Giving Tuesday: Tips on Choosing A Charity to Support”

  1. A friend of mine has been considering donating to charity for some time now, but he wasn’t sure how to find the right one. I love that you say to ask them questions about their donations and how much actually go to the cause. I know that I would love to find someone that is giving most of it to the people that need it.

  2. I really liked your idea of asking the charity organization a tour around their vicinity because a reputable organization does not have anything to hide and will be willing to do this for me. That is good to know since I have been interested in a while now to start donating to charity, but of course, I want to make sure that my gifts will be fruitful. For that, I have to find the right organization that works for the right cause. Thank you.

  3. I like how you said that ideally, at least 85 cents of every dollar raised should go directly to programs and services of the charitable organization. We have been wanting to give more and find a new charity. Thank you for the tips on choosing a charity to support.

  4. Supysticy says:

    We have find your article very useful and reliable for lots of content readers so please write more on other topics too.

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