How To Verify The Legitimacy of a Charity

VerifyTrust, But Verify

Giving to charities is undoubtedly a good thing – it not only makes you feel good, it also helps other people who are less fortunate than you are. Even the government encourages giving to charities. If you give a gift to charitable foundations, you are eligible for a charitable contribution deduction on your taxes.

However, to make your gift count, you have to ensure that the charity you’re giving to is not only legitimate, but is known to put their funds into efficient use. Nowadays, there are a lot of scam charities that want to take advantage of people’s goodwill

Before writing a check to a certain charitable foundation, here are some resources online which you can use to check the legitimacy of the charity in question.

National Association Of State Charity Officials

The National Association Of State Charity Officials is made up of state offices whose main duty is to oversee the all charitable foundations in the United States. The website has several resources for both donors and charitable organizations. You can contact the NASCO to check whether or not the charity is registered in your state.

Internal Revenue Service

Since charitable foundations need to register with the Internal Revenue Service to apply for tax exempt status, it is a good place to start searching for legitimate charities. The IRS has a database of tax exempt organizations, which are mostly charities. This is also a good resource to check whether or not your donation is eligible for a tax deduction on your part.

Charity Watch

CharityWatch is a charitable foundation watchdog established by the American Institute of Philanthropy. Unlike other charity watchdogs that only list down legitimate and scam charities, CharityWatch lists down all charities and rates them based on how efficiently they use donations. This is because there are a lot of charities that are legitimate, but are not very smart at using the money given to them.

CharityWatch also has news articles about the charities they feature, which serve as donation records of the charities so you can see what these charities have done to the money given to them in the past. The website also has resources for donors for intelligent gift giving to charities, such as tips when making donations.

Charity 101

Charity 101 has an online search engine that is easy to use. Just put the name of the charity you want to find more information about, and the search engine will give you relevant results. There are a lot of charities in the United States and some of them have names that sound alike. Donors can use this tool to confirm which charity they really want.

Aside from providing basic information about the charity like the charity’s name, contact number, founding information and others, you can also check the tax status of the charity. It is similar to the IRS database, only a little bit more user-friendly, with more advanced search options. The search engine can be used in lieu of the IRS one whenever the latter is down or unreachable.

Charity Navigator

Charity Navigator is known by many as a dependable guide to intelligent gift giving. The site evaluates charities using a ranking system. Charities are ranked using financial efficiency, accountability and transparency. The site also shows financial performance and contribution breakdown using easy to understand graphs. This is also the place to go if you want to check a charity’s income statement.

Aside from disclosing information about charities, the site also has quaint articles for donors, like top 10 lists of charities for different criteria, like most popular, most growth, most debt and most followers. It also has several guide articles geared towards donors that talk everything from the benefits of giving, to stopping telemarketing calls from charities.

Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance

This website was built by the BBB for both donors and charitable foundations. Since charitable foundations are technically organizations, they still fall under the BBB’s jurisdiction. The BBB’s role is the same; they still oversee and watch over charitable foundations to ensure that each charity upholds the standards set down by the BBB. The BBB compares all charities against the Standards for Charity Accountability each year.

Unlike other websites, the BBB does not have a ranking system for the charities included on its website; instead, their job is to assist donors during the process of gift giving to ensure that donors are equipped with enough information to make educated decisions. As a donor, you can also file a charity complaint through the website.

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