How to Know If a Charity Is Legit

Researching a charity before you donate is important. Here are a few tips on how to know if a charity is legit.

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Check the charity’s website

When you’re researching a charity, the first place to start is the organization’s website. Any legitimate charity should have a website that is professional looking and easy to navigate. The website should also have detailed information about the charity’s mission and how they plan to use donations. If a charity doesn’t have a website, or their website looks like it was made in the 1990s, that’s a red flag.

Look for the About Us page

When you’re considering donating to a charity, one of the most important things to do is research the organization to make sure it is legitimate. A good first step is to look for an “About Us” page on the charity’s website. This page should provide information on the charity’s mission, history, and staff. If this information is not readily available, or if the charity does not have a website, that could be a red flag.

Another thing to look for is financial information. Most legitimate charities will make their financial information, such as their latest annual report, easily accessible on their website. This report should include information on how the charity spends its money and where the money comes from. If this information is not available, or if the charity seems to be spending more money on overhead than on its actual programs, that could be another red flag.

Finally, you can check out the charity’s rating on independent rating organizations like Charity Navigator or CharityWatch. These organizations rate charities based on their financial health and accountability/transparency. A good rating from one of these organizations is a good sign that the charity is legitimate.

Check for a privacy policy

When you give personal information to a charity, you want to be sure it’s safe. One way to do that is to check for a privacy policy on the charity’s website. The policy should explain what information the charity collects from donors and how it plans to use that information. If you don’t see a privacy policy or can’t find it easily, that’s a red flag. You might want to consider giving to another charity.

Check for a donate now button

When you find a charity that you want to support, the first step is to go to their website and see if they have a “donate now” button. If they do, that’s a good sign that they are legitimate. If they don’t, it’s not necessarily a bad sign, but it’s something to be aware of.

Another thing to look for on the charity’s website is whether or not they are registered with the Better Business Bureau (BBB). The BBB is a nonprofit organization that sets standards for charities, and if a charity is registered with them, it means that they meet their standards.

Finally, you should also take a look at the charity’s 990 form. This form is required by the IRS for all charities, and it will give you information about how much money the charity has raised and how they have spent it.

Check the charity’s rating

One of the easiest ways to know if a charity is legit is to check its rating with a few different organizations. The three main organizations that rate charities are Charity Navigator, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), and GuideStar. All you need to do is a quick Google search of the charity’s name and see what comes up. If the charity has a high rating with all three of these organizations, then it is probably a legitimate charity.

Look for the charity’s rating on Charity Navigator

One of the best ways to know if a charity is legit is to look for their rating on Charity Navigator. Charity Navigator is a website that rates charities on their financial health, transparency, and accountability. They also have an interactive map that shows you where the charity’s money goes.

You can also search for the charity on Google and see if there are any negative articles about them. If you’re still not sure, you can always contact the charity directly and ask them questions about their work.

Look for the charity’s rating on the Better Business Bureau’s website

The first step in determining whether or not a charity is legitimate is to check its rating on the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance website. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a national charity watchdog that evaluates charities based on 20 standards relating to governance, effectiveness, and donor privacy, among other factors.

If a charity has been accredited by the BBB, that means it meets all 20 of the BBB’s standards. If a charity is not accredited, you can still see how it ranks on each of the 20 standards.

Check the charity’s financial information

Knowing whether a charity is legit can save you time, money, and heartache. There are a few key things you can do to check the financial information of a charity. This section will cover how to check a charity’s Form 990, their website, and other resources.

Look for the charity’s Form 990 on the Foundation Center’s website

Form 990 is the tax form that all nonprofits must file with the IRS each year. It includes information on the charity’s income and expenses, as well as details on its programs and governance.

The Form 990 is a great way to get a snapshot of a charity’s finances and see how it is spending its money. You can also use the Form 990 to see how much the charity’s top executives are paid.

To find a charity’s Form 990, go to the Foundation Center’s website and search for the charity by name. Once you find the charity, click on the “Forms 990” tab to see a list of the most recent forms that have been filed.

Look for the charity’s audited financial statements on the charity’s website

Federal law requires charities that spend over $750,000 per year to have their financial statements audited by an independent Certified Public Accountant (CPA). The charity must make these audited financial statements available to the public upon request. You can usually find a link to the charity’s most recent audited financial statements on the charity’s website.

If you can’t find the charity’s most recent audited financial statements on its website, you can request them from the charity directly. Most charities will be happy to provide you with their audited financial statements if you ask.

When reviewing a charity’s financial information, pay attention to:
-The total amount of money the charity raised
-The amount of money the charity spent on program expenses
-The amount of money the charity spent on fund-raising expenses
-The amount of money the charity has in assets

Check the charity’s governing documents

Every charity has what are called governing documents. These are the organization’s articles of incorporation, bylaws, and conflict of interest policy. They spell out the organization’s mission and how it plans to operate. These are public documents, and you can usually find them on the charity’s website. If the charity you’re interested in doesn’t have them posted, you can request them.

Look for the charity’s articles of incorporation on the charity’s website

Check the charity’s governing documents. These should be available on the charity’s website. Look for the charity’s articles of incorporation or bylaws. These will usually contain the charity’s mission statement. The IRS Form 990 will also list the charity’s mission statement.

The mission statement will tell you what the charity is trying to accomplish. It should be clear and concise. If the mission statement is too vague, it may be a sign that the charity is not legitimate.

Check to see if the charity is registered with your state’s Attorney General office or with the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Look for the charity’s bylaws on the charity’s website

Many reputable charities will post their bylaws or similar governing documents on their websites. Reviewing these documents can give you a good sense of the charity’s purpose, how it plans to operate, and who is in charge.

If the charity does not post its governing documents on its website, you can try contacting the charity directly to request a copy. Keep in mind, however, that the charity is not required to provide you with these documents.

Looking at the charity’s governing documents can help you answer questions such as:
-What is the charity’s mission?
-How is the charity organized and run?
-Who are the members of the board of directors?

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