Over the last few days most of us have seen pictures and video of the destruction in Nepal. It seems that we go from one natural disaster or man-made catastrophe to another. The pictures are horrifying and they certainly pull at our heartstrings. That being said, whenever there is a natural or man-made disaster charitable organizations and relief groups spring into action to help those in need. What unfortunately also happens is that those lowlifes who look at taking advantage of peoples’ good nature also spring into action. Not surprisingly, you’re already starting to see scams and frauds develop around the earthquake in Nepal.
Whether it was the tsunami that hit Southeast Asia, the earthquake in Haiti or even the 9-11 terrorist attack in our country, these types of events brings out the scam artists. Bogus charities start coming out of the woodwork seeking to take advantage of your good nature. Many of these charities have names that look legitimate as they try to mimic well-known charities. They may solicit you in a number of different ways either by phone, mailing or by email. Unfortunately, just by looking at their material you would have no idea that they’re not legitimate. Their materials are professionally done and their websites look legit. These scam artists are good at what they do. Because of this, you and I have to be extremely cautious about giving to charities, particularly, as a result of natural or man-made disasters.
I believe that just like when it comes to investing you need to set rules for yourself, the same thing applies to charitable giving. It is only by following some rules that you can make sure that your money goes to the cause that you want and not to some scam artist, or that your money does not goes to a legitimate charity who unfortunately spends too much of their money fundraising and on administrative costs as opposed to the charitable purpose. You may be surprised that even legitimate charities that have been started by athletes or ex-politicians don’t spend their money wisely. All you need to do is look at the relief effort for Haiti and you realize that too many charities just wasted their money as opposed to helping those in need. Therefore, before giving to any charity it is important that you check them out. Because of the internet it has gotten easier to determine whether a charity is legitimate and if they’re spending their money wisely. Some websites that you can look at to review a charity are www.charitynavigator.com, www.guidestar.com and www.wisegivingalliance.com operated by the Better Business Bureau.
We all receive pitches from charities. Once again, I believe you have to have some rules on how to deal with charity pitches. When it comes to emails, I assume that any email I receive seeking a charitable contribution, unless it’s from an organization that I’ve previously worked with, is bogus. I don’t click on any links as the hackers use these links to infect your computer with a virus. If you receive an email and you are interested in that particular charity, as opposed to clicking on the link you should type the charity’s web address yourself.
I also never give through a phone solicitation. At a minimum if I’m interested then I will have them send me some information but I will never give through a phone solicitation. After all, why would I want to give that person on the other end of the phone my credit card or bank information? It just doesn’t make sense.
When it comes to charity giving, you and I give because it makes us feel good. We want to help those in need and make this world a better place. However, none of those things can happen if the money you direct to a charity is not used appropriately. Therefore, before you give to charities seeking contributions because of the devastating earthquake in Nepal, do your homework ahead of time so your money can go to a just cause.