Tips for Avoiding Fraud

Tips for Avoiding Fraud

Just because someone asks you to support a worthy cause doesn’t mean you can’t take time to consider the nonprofit seeking your donation. Creating greater social impact requires avoiding fraud. Here are some things you can do to avoid charitable fraud: 

A simple internet search

If a nonprofit, its staff, or its board has been the subject of negative press or an official investigation, that is a clear red flag to proceed with caution before committing funds. A simple internet search can identify red flags, and may be the only way to check on crowdfunding appeals on sites like GoFundMe or Spotfund. If the organization you are considering is a registered nonprofit, resources such as Candid, Charity Navigator, and BBB Wise Giving Alliance all provide free financial and programmatic information. 

Remember the difference between a worthy cause and a worthy charity

There are many good and worthy causes, but that doesn’t mean that every charity addressing that cause is just as good. It’s a distinction that can be hard to remember when you feel strongly about a cause. It’s also why, in a well-known example, one fraudulent cancer charity successfully raised so much money: donors who had friends or family with cancer found it hard to say “no.” They may have avoided the fraudulent charity altogether if donors had done a simple internet search and asked their friends and family touched by cancer: “Which nonprofits have really helped you?” 

Get involved directly with an organization

By volunteering your time or speaking with staff or the people who benefit directly from the organization, you can get a firsthand look at how a nonprofit uses philanthropic funds and other resources to benefit clients. As more organizations and services have developed online components, opportunities to volunteer have also changed, through remote work like staffing text-based response lines, conducting online advocacy, and lending professional skills, such as marketing, technology, or accounting. Organizations like VolunteerMatch help connect to opportunities remotely or on-site.