It’s important to do your research before donating to a charity. Here are some tips on how to check if a charity is legitimate.
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Checking the Charity’s Website
Before you donate to any charity, you should make sure that it is a legitimate organization. One way to do this is to check the charity’s website. The website should have a professional appearance and contain accurate information. If the website looks like it was made by a amateur or if it contains inaccurate information, then the charity is probably not legitimate.
Look for the charity’s contact information
###Look for the charity’s contact information
The best way to check if a charity is legitimate is to look for the charity’s contact information on its website. A legitimate charity will list its mailing address, telephone number, and email address on its website. If a charity does not list this information, or if the information is P.O. Box only, this may be a sign that the charity is not legitimate. You should also be able to find information about the charity’s executive staff and board of directors on its website.
###Check the Charity Navigator website
The Charity Navigator website is a good resource to use when checking if a charity is legitimate. The website rates charities based on their financial health, accountability, and transparency. You can search for a specific charity on the Charity Navigator website to see its rating and find out more information about it.
###Call the charity directly
If you are still unsure whether a particular charity is legitimate, you can always call the charity directly and speak with someone in customer service. They should be able to answer any questions you have about the legitimacy of the organization.
Check for a physical address
One of the first places to start when you want to research a charity is its website. Here are some things to look for:
-A physical address. This is a red flag if the charity doesn’t list one.
-An “About Us” page that details the organization’s mission and history.
-Financial information, such as its annual report, IRS Form 990 or audited financial statements.
-A list of the charity’s board of directors and key staff members.
Another thing to look for on the website is contact information. There should be an easy way to get in touch with someone at the charity if you have questions or concerns. The contact information should include more than just an email address or phone number; it should also list a mailing address and possibly even a physical office location.
Checking the Charity’s Financials
When you’re looking at a charity, one of the first places you should look is their most recent financial statement. This will give you an idea of how much money they are bringing in and where it is going. You can also check to see if the charity is registered with the IRS.
Look up the charity’s rating on Charity Navigator
Before you donate to a charity, it’s important to know that your money will be used wisely. A good way to research a charity is to look up its rating on Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator is a website that rates charities based on their financial health and transparency.
To find a charity’s rating on Charity Navigator, go to the website and type the name of the charity into the search bar. Once you find the charity you’re interested in, click on it to see its rating.
Charity Navigator gives each charity a score of 1 to 4 stars, with 4 stars being the highest rating. The score is based on two factors: financial health and accountability & transparency. Financial health looks at how well the charity manages its finances, and accountability & transparency looks at how well the charity discloses information about its finances and governance.
When you’re looking at a charity’s rating on Charity Navigator, pay attention to both the score and the rating. The score is just a number, but the rating gives you more information about why the charity received that score. For example, a charity might have a score of 90 out of 100 but only be rated 2 stars. This means that while the charity is doing well financially, it isn’t very transparent about its finances or governance.
You can also read reviews of charities on Charity Navigator. These reviews are written by donors like you who have firsthand experience with the charities they’re reviewing. Reading reviews can give you an idea of what it’s like to work with a particular charity and whether or not other donors would recommend it.
Look up the charity’s Form 990 on Guidestar
The best way to find out how a charity spends its money is to look at its Form 990. This is the form that all charitable organizations must file with the IRS each year. It’s a public record, and you can find it on the Guidestar website.
When you look at a charity’s Form 990, pay attention to the following:
-How much of the money raised is spent on fundraising? You want a charity that spends less than 20% of its money on fundraising.
-How much of the money raised is spent on programs? You want a charity that spends at least 60% of its money on programs.
-What are the salaries of the top executives? You want a charity where the salaries are reasonable.
Checking the Charity’s Accreditation
When you’re looking for a legitimate charity, one of the first things you should check is the charity’s accreditation. There are a few accreditation bodies out there, but one of the most well-known is the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance. Checking the charity’s accreditation with the BBB will give you a good idea of whether or not the charity is legitimate.
Check if the charity is accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance
One way to check if a charity is legitimate is to see if it is accredited by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a national standards organization that evaluates charities to see if they meet 20 standards for charity accountability. To be accredited, charities must provide the BBB Wise Giving Alliance with information about their finances, governance, and program effectiveness. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance then reviews this information and makes a decision about accreditation.
Check if the charity is accredited by the National Association of Charities
One of the best ways to determine whether or not a charity is legitimate is to check if it is accredited by the National Association of Charities (NAC). The NAC is a national organization that sets standards for charities and provides accreditation to those that meet those standards.
To be accredited by the NAC, a charity must meet the following criteria:
-The charity must have been in operation for at least two years.
-The charity must have a written set of governance policies and procedures.
-The charity must have a conflict of interest policy.
-The charity must have audited financial statements.
-The charity must abide by the NAC’s code of ethics.
If a charity meets all of these criteria, it is eligible to be accredited by the NAC. Accredited charities are required to renew their accreditation every three years.
You can search for charities that are accredited by the NAC on their website.
Checking the Charity’s Registration
The first step to checking if a charity is legitimate is to check if the charity is registered as a non-profit. This can usually be done by searching for the charity’s name on the state’s charitable registration website. If the charity is not registered, that does not mean it is not legitimate, but it is a red flag.
Check if the charity is registered with the IRS
The IRS requires most charities to register with them in order to maintain their tax-exempt status. You can check to see if a charity is registered using the IRS’s Exempt Organizations search tool.
To use the tool, simply enter the name of the charity into the search box. If the charity is registered, you’ll see their listing come up. If they’re not registered, you’ll either get a “no results” message or you’ll see a list of similar organizations that are registered.
If you don’t find the charity you’re looking for, that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s not legitimate. Some smaller charities may not be registered with the IRS, and some churches and other religious organizations may be exempt from registration.
Check if the charity is registered with the state’s attorney general’s office
If you’re thinking about donating to a charity, you should make sure it’s registered with the state’s attorney general’s office. This will give you some peace of mind that the charity is legitimate and that your donation will be used for its intended purpose.
You can usually find a list of registered charities on the attorney general’s website. If you can’t find the charity you’re looking for, you can call the office and ask if it’s registered.
Keep in mind that even if a charity is registered, it doesn’t mean that it’s a good one. You should still do your own research to make sure the charity is reputable and has a good track record of using donations wisely.