How Do You Know If a Non-Profit Charity Is Legit?

I will be the first to admit that I am cynical at times. In almost 16 years of radio, I have come across non-profits...

How Do You Know If a Non-Profit Charity Is Legit?

I will be the first to admit that I am cynical at times. In almost 16 years of radio, I have come across non-profits of all kinds. Some are legitimate non-profit Charities with a mission. Some are just about raising the money, which begs the question –is this benefiting the organizers of the non-profits or truly being put into the charity? Then amongst legit non-profits you have the carnival callers selling snake oil.

I think that it is important to be prudent and prayerful when deciding where to allocate God’s money. Today, more than ever, a good many non-profit charities are struggling with a decline in giving. A dear friend of mine sent some great information to consider when evaluating a non-profit. *Please know that these are not mine and unfortunately I cannot find the source to properly give the author credit.*

Real charities will always be happy to take your money a couple days or even a couple weeks after they first make contact with you, so take time to do your research. High pressure appeals that claim a need is "urgent" are often times a warning sign.

Take time to ask the following questions before you donate:

What is the charity's exact name? Scam artists often use names that sound familiar to reputable charitable organizations in order to solicit donations.

Is the charity registered with the Secretary of State's Office? If so, what is their registration number?

Does the charity operate nationally? If so, what is the address of its national offices?

Does it operate locally or have a local center? If so, what is the address of its local office?

How much of my donation will go to charitable activities?

How much of my donation will go to administrative expenses?

Is the call being made by a professional solicitor? If so, what percent of the donation will they receive and are they registered with the Secretary of State’s Office? What is their registration number?

Is my donation tax deductible, i.e. can I deduct it from my own federal income tax return?

Ask to be sent financial statements from the organization to determine who will benefit from your donation.

If you are purchasing a product that supports a charitable organization, always ask what percentage of the amount you spend will actually support the charity. If it is a product you do not want or need, you might be able to better help the charity by donating directly.

Search the charity online through a search engine. Check for complaints filed by other consumers.

Contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints about the charity or search for the charity online at http://bbb.org/charity.

That is the check list for non-profit charities. What about ministries and churches? Let's cover that tomorrow.

@jmarkb - there is a fine line and a balance on personal compensation. As you point out by example, it is a personal decision. I guess to attract the talent and considering the size of some of these organizations you have to pay that kind of money.

Maybe, but the CEO for the Salvation Army doesn't make that kind of money. I'm not going to give my hard earned money to pay a CEO's salary. Just my opinion.

@jmarkb - I have never looked at CEO pay of the major non-profits. Your point does make sense seeing that a charity as big as the Salvation Army doesn't pull in that kind of cash.

Yeah, I Googled it a few years ago and was shocked to see the facts. That's when I stopped giving to all the national non_profits except the Salvation Army.

Red Cross' CEO makes nearly $1 mil. I was shocked at how many ministries and charities get the big bucks. I want to know how much goes to those they are purportedly helping. I have issues with the constant asking but you live in a million dollar home. It seems similar To the Go Fund Me camp. A lot of fraudsters. My 2 cent.

I really understand what you are saying but the same thing is going on with city administration in your local governments paid with your tax dollars. Many in our area make much more than what you have cited.

@JosephC - Yes the financial mishandling at the city and state level is unbelievable

@Bsm1955 - I am in shock that the CEO makes that kind of money - never would have thought that would be the case

Great information to help me decide where to donate!

@seer42 - glad it helped - it is unfortunate that you have to be so careful these days