- Social Justice
How to determine whether a charity is reliable or not
When you come across the word ‘charity’, what comes to mind? While charities such as the United Nations Foundation and Second Harvest may sound familiar and trustworthy, how do we determine whether an organization is reliable or not? How do we know whether our donations will reach where we believe they are going? As the digital age progresses, methods of donations have been made easier than ever before due to the introduction of the internet, where donors can simply fill out their personal information on a site and directly transfer the amount of money they desire to give. At the same time, there is an increase in the potential for fake or look-alike charities and non-profits to easily deceive users by making their site look credible and highly reliable.
Upon examining various trustworthy and reputable charities, one can devise that such charities share various common traits: being transparent, cost-effective, and research-based. When deciding whether to donate to a charity or not, a straightforward move would be to look up the name of the charity to check whether the charity can be trusted. One way to do this would be to look up a charity’s ratings on sites such as charitywatch.org and charitynavigator.org. Another common method to confirm the validity of a charity is through examining the official website of the charity thoroughly. What constitutes a worthy charity? Think NPC, a group that supports organizations and individuals and provides insights into the charity sector, stated in a report from 2016 that a trustworthy charity should be clear on what their aims are and how the charity will work to fulfill their goals. A typical trustworthy charity would be transparent and open to displaying their statistics on the impact they have made, providing information on what they use the aid for, their goals and accomplishments, or a report that contains details on what they aim to achieve. According to the Federal Trade Commission, there are several other ways to determine whether a charity is a scam or not, such as by intentionally excluding financial statements or being unable to provide information on where they spend the received money. A charity may also be a scam if they are unable to provide evidence that they are a credible organization, such as a Federal Tax ID number or an EID (Employer Identification Number). As there is no federal law in the US that prohibits charities from deceiving consumers to receive money, it needs to be stressed to the public that we need to be increasingly aware of where we choose to donate and our purpose behind choosing the charity we give to. If a charity profoundly covers how they plan and are using the donations they receive and have brought about an impactful change in the area they cover, we can be highly assured that the charity is reliable.
Say that a person has run a background check on the charity that they want to donate to and is ready to deposit their funds. But if they want to provide the most out of their donation, should they reconsider the charity they want to donate to? According to Vox, many charity evaluators are skeptical of large charities as they are more likely to be less transparent and invest in disaster relief efforts, which have been shown to be less cost-effective. Just because a charity is less known, it does not necessarily mean that they cannot make a significant impact; oftentimes, they are likely to access places that large organizations can not. As the larger organizations get richer and are able to upscale, the smaller organizations suffer under the domination of the larger groups that can be difficult to trace in terms of where the donations are being used. Benjamin Soskis, a consultant to GiveWell, a federally recognized organization, states that more third-party evaluations are needed in order to ensure the public’s understanding of what charities are effectively making use of their money.
Charities are unmistakably a good way to reach out to those in need. However, with the increasing number of ways in which one can donate, scams and fraud charities can benefit largely from online sites by falsely claiming to have been registered. As fake charities become increasingly harder to spot, donors need to consider where they are donating to and where the donations will go. By cross-referencing organizations or even asking the charity itself, one can increase the chances of making sure that the charity they are donations that they are providing will make a counted difference.
- Blake Ellis. "Where your donations actually go." CNNMoney. 24 May 2013. Web. 13 Nov. 2019. <https://money.cnn.com/2013/05/24/pf/donations-charities/index.html>
- Http://www.supersonicplayground.com/. "What makes a good charity? NPC's guide to charity analysis." Think NPC. n.d. Web. 13 Nov. 2019. <https://www.thinknpc.org/resource-hub/what-makes-a-good-charity/>
- Wischhover, Cheryl. "Rich charities keep getting richer. That means your money isn’t doing as much good as it could.." Vox. 24 Apr. 2017. Web. 13 Nov. 2019. <https://www.vox.com/the-big-idea/2017/4/24/15377056/big-charities-best-charities-evaluation-nonprofit>
- Dylan Matthews. "These are the charities where your money will do the most good." Vox. 1 Dec. 2015. Web. 13 Nov. 2019. <https://www.vox.com/2015/12/1/9826838/best-charities-donate-2018-giving-tuesday>
- Consumer Information. "How to donate wisely and avoid charity scams." Consumer Information. 6 Jul. 2018. Web. 13 Nov. 2019. <https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/features/how-donate-wisely-and-avoid-charity-scams>