Despite the best efforts of well-meaning people to do their due diligence and ensure they’re making wise investments with their charity spending, you still hear news about some sort of breast cancer scam more often than anyone wants to. Stories about fake charities and even scams that spoof legitimate charities make the average person hesitant to give — even to causes as noble as breast cancer society, research, education, and treatment. There are a few things you can do to ensure that you’re actually giving your money to the charity you intend, like the steps below.
Verify the Reputation of the Charity
The Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance is a great resource for learning information about the reputations of various charitable organizations. You can also do searches on the Internet to learn a great deal about how helpful an organization has been to breast cancer patients and survivors. Seek blog articles, news stories, and even forum postings about the services they provide and how grateful people are to receive those services.
Check Out Tax Exempt Status
Charitable organizations are required to file IRS form 990 in order to maintain their tax exempt statuses. This means that if the charity is a legitimate charity, there is a record of how much money they bring in, how much of it goes to charitable overhead, and how much of the donation dollars go to the actual recipients of the charitable goods. Keep in mind, however, that some charities also receive a bulk of their donations in goods and services that may have a reportable financial value, as in medical equipment, personal products, and cleaning supplies that have to go directly to the patients but in case of fraudulent organizations it is “spent” on the recipients.
Volunteer with the Organization
There’s no better way to see what kind of good work a charity does than by giving that organization your time. Charities need volunteers for many things including sorting through donations, delivering donated items to recipients, hosting events, donating goods to events, working events, and spreading the word about the charity. There aren’t any legitimate charities that won’t work hard to find an opportunity for you to put your time, skills, and talents to work to help them meet their operational goals of getting help to the women who need it most. Any organization that will turn down a good faith offer of help from you doesn’t deserve your money.
Don’t Play Around with Charities that Play on Words
The other thing you should consider in your search for legitimate charities to donate to is avoiding charities that are playing off of more famous names. These are charities that either mimic the name altogether but have websites that aren’t the official charity website or that have names that are very close to better known organizations. That isn’t to say that newer, lesser known charities don’t offer value to the people they serve. It’s only saying that you should be on the lookout for sketchy behavior as a potential red flag that this is not the charity it’s representing itself to be.
At the end of the day, your goal is to give without regret. You want to believe in the organization your dollars support. There’s no shame in that. Following the steps above will help you give with the confidence that your dollars are making a real help to real women and not just another Breast Cancer scam out to do more harm than good for the fight against breast cancer.