Tips for Vetting Nonprofits Before Donating

( – Throughout the holiday season, charitable giving tends to increase, with some donors motivated by increased fundraising efforts during the holidays and others looking to ensure their charitable giving is done before the end of the year to include it in their upcoming tax returns.

Last year CNBC provided a helpful guide on how to ensure that that charitable donations are getting where donors expect them to go.

According to CNBC, donors should avoid giving to charities that employ high-pressure tactics like providing match-gift offers that include a quickly approaching deadline.

CharityWatch executive director Laurie Styron told CNBC that as a general rule, high-pressure tactics are a red flag that it is “not a good charity.”

Prospective donors should also take the time to vet a charity using one of the many websites that rate charitable organizations like CharityWatch, CharityNavigator, or GuideStar.

Most nonprofit groups that are not churches must file a Form 990 with the IRS each year. Prospective donors can also confirm that a charity is tax-exempt and eligible for tax-deductible donations by visiting the IRS website.

CNBC also recommends that donors should give directly to a nonprofit rather than donate to an individual soliciting money on behalf of a charitable organization.

Laurie Styron told CNBC that even if the person is a legitimate donation processor, they could be taking a cut of donations as a processing or administrative fee.

Finally, donors should be wary of “scammy charities,” typically individuals or groups that adopt a name that is similar but slightly different from a popular, reputable charitable organization’s name. Styron said it is not uncommon to have scam charities “leverage a familiar-sounded name” to con donors out of money.

She told CNBC that this is why it is particularly important to vet charitable organizations by looking them up on the IRS website and checking them out at one of the websites that rate charitable groups.

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