Tuesday, May 5, 2015

How to Stay Safe from Charity Fraud

By Lisa Lujan, Online Giving Coordinator, Community First Foundation

A few months back I came across an article called "Don’t Get Scrooged," by Mitch Morrissey, Denver District Attorney of the Second Judicial District. Given the fraudulent nature of the age we live in, I’d like to share some of the DA office’s important safety tips.

The first part of the article says that "donors should be wary about giving without doing a little research to ensure the charity is legitimate.”

It continues by saying to "avoid any charity or fundraiser that..." 
  • Won’t provide proof that a contribution is tax deductible
  • Thanks you for a previous pledge that you can’t remember giving to in the past
  • Uses high-pressure tactics
  • Asks for donations in cash
  • Offers to send a courier to collect the donation or asks for you to wire money
  • Refuses to provide written information about itself
  • Appeals to your heart strings, especially patriotism and current events.”
What’s great about using ColoradoGives.org, our online giving website,  is that you can know the following for certain:
  • Every nonprofit on the site is a 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization that must be registered and in good standing with the Colorado Secretary of State’s office
  • All donations through ColoradoGives.org must be made using a credit card (Visa, MasterCard, Discover, or American Express) or the information from a bank account (personal checking, business checking, or savings). You needn’t create an account to make a one-time donation, and all payment information is stored with the secure third-party e-commerce payment service providers we use, not on our site.
  • All information about us (Community First Foundation--the nonprofit that operates the site ColoradoGives.org) can be found on our website.
  • All the information about the nonprofits featured on our site can be found on the nonprofits’ profiles. Have more questions than what is provided? Feel free to contact the nonprofits directly using the contact information that can also be found on their profiles.
Additional tips from the Denver DA article include creating a Charity Checklist that includes:
  • Asking for the name of the charity if the telemarketer does not provide it promptly.
  • Calling the charity directly to find out whether it’s aware of the solicitation and has authorized use of its name.
  • If they claim the charity supports local organizations, call the local groups to verify.
When you use ColoradoGives.org you can rest assured that:
  • The charities on the sites have provided us with their legal names and the supporting documentation.
  • If you have any concerns about a solicitation you’ve received you can easily find the contact information of all our nonprofits on their individual profiles.
  • Even if they don’t serve the Colorado area, all the nonprofits on ColoradoGives.org must either be headquartered or providing services with a physical office in Colorado.

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