Wise Giving Wednesday: 2023 International Charity Fraud Awareness Week

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calendar icon Nov 29, 2023

2023 International Charity Fraud Awareness Week

BBB Wise Giving Alliance is proud to help promote the 2023 International Charity Fraud Awareness Week (November 27 – December 1) which is an international coalition of regulators, law enforcement agencies, charities and nonprofit associations seeking to raise charity fraud awareness.

Donor Tips to Fight Fraud

  • Don’t Click on the Link. Donors should be careful about clicking on links or QR codes that appear in charity appeals within social media and emails. Scammers may direct you to a false page in order to steal your personal data. If interested in the referenced organization, visit the charity’s website on your own.
  • Avoid Mistaken Charity Identity. Look at the name carefully as many charity names sound similar. Sometimes it’s because charities are raising money for the same cause, other times it’s because questionable groups are seeking to confuse you.
  • Watch Out for Excessive Fundraising Pressure. Well managed charities will welcome your donations at any time. If you experience pressure to make an immediate gift decision, that can be a ruse to get you to contribute without checking.
  • Be Wary of Vague Program Descriptions. Be alert to appeals that bring tears to your eyes but say little about what the charity is doing to address the problems described.

Tips for Charities to Fight Fraud

  • Be Aware of Email Compromise Fraud. Charity accounting staff may receive an email that appears to be coming from another staff member asking them to change their checking account number on their payroll deposit when in fact this is an attempt to misdirect funds to a scammer. To avoid such deceptions. look at the email address and wording of the email carefully and call employees to verify important financial record changes.
  • Look Out for Fake Check Scams. A charity receives an email from an individual announcing a large donation will be sent via overnight mail. The scammer calls after the check arrives and says an error was made and the charity needs to return some of the money via wire transfer or online for a medical or other personal emergency. After the money is returned, the charity learns the original check is fake.
  • Don’t Process Phony Invoices. The charity may receive an invoice for services never ordered, such as a listing in a non-existent directory. Implementing additional controls, such as requiring purchase order request forms, may help address this problem.
  • Verify Vendor Before Sharing Info. If an outside company contacts the charity requesting bank numbers or other sensitive information, verify that they are an authorized vendor, the appropriate contact, and the nature of the transaction. The charity’s accounting firm may also have suggestions for establishing additional internal controls.

Take the Time to Check Out Charities

Verify Government Registration. About 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require charities to register with the attorney general’s office or secretary of state. You can verify an organization’s charitable tax-exempt status at this IRS link. In Canada, check with the Canada Revenue Agency.

Check for BBB Charity Accreditation. Visit Give.org to verify if the organization meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability (i.e., a BBB Accredited Charity.) There is no charge to charities for the accreditation evaluation and access to published reports is free.

Visit the Charity’s Website. See if the charity’s website includes the type of information you would find in an annual report: a statement about their mission, a summary of accomplishments in the past year, a roster of the board of directors, and the charity’s latest financial statements.

Heart of Giving Podcast

This week’s Heart of Giving Podcast features Asha Curran, CEO, GivingTuesday, the organization that seeks to inspire generosity around the world. The donation campaign event which takes place in the U.S. on the Tuesday after Thanksgiving was created in 2012 as a day for giving and has since grown into a global movement to encourage giving.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

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