Wise Giving Wednesday: International Charity Fraud Awareness Week

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calendar icon Oct 19, 2022

As part of International Charity Fraud Awareness Week, which represents an international coalition of government regulators, law enforcement agencies, charities and others seeking to address charity fraud issues, BBB Wise Giving Alliance is pleased to share some steps that donors might take to help reduce instances of fraud.

Cybersecurity Charity Fraud Cautions

  • Don’t click the link or scan a QR code. First, verify the source. Links and QR codes that appear in social media that claim to direct you to a charity’s website may connect you to a false page to steal your data. Best to visit the charity’s website on your own.
  • Phishing with false identities is also a possibility. The online charity appeal may have a name that sounds familiar but on closer inspection it is not the group you have in mind. Sometimes this is because charities are raising funds for the same cause, other times a questionable group is seeking to confuse you, or a scammer may be attempting to access your personable data.
  • Impersonating a charity staff member can also happen. More sophisticated online scams may involve an email or online communication that appears to be from a charity executive requesting that donations be sent to a new bank account or some other means to divert your gift to the scammer’s pockets. Unusual or suspicious requests should always be checked out. Visit the charity’s website and make direct contact with the charity to verify that the request is authorized.

Directions for Donor Defense

  • Visit the charity’s website on your own.  Avoid misdirection or promises of a quick gift link and go, on your own, to the charity’s actual website. See if the charity provides access to basic information such as a description of program accomplishments, financial information and a roster of their governing board.
  • Confirm 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 Accreditation. Visit charity reports on 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 accreditation.

Reporting Charity Fraud

  • Consider posting to BBB Scam Tracker ℠ to help warn others by reporting what you know.

Heart of Giving Podcast

In this week's Heart of Giving Podcast, BBB Wise Giving Alliance presents a webinar on "Planning Your Philanthropic Legacy.” This includes a discussion about various planned giving options that donors consider in supporting charities. Guest speakers Barbara O'Reilly from Windmill Hill Consulting, Lori Kranczer from Link Elevating Philanthropy, and Jessica Birken from Birken Law Office.

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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