Hurricane Sandy: How to Help Without Getting Duped

donations

You’ve seen the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy, and now you’re anxious to help out. But before you hand over money or supplies, make sure that your donation will get to the right place. Learn how to tell whether the charity you’re giving to is legit.

Do your research. You want to give to a legitimate, well-established charity. Charity Navigator can help you wade through the donation options. The Better Business Bureau also rates accredited charitable businesses on its site. And the Internal Revenue Service maintains a list of all organizations registered as charities.

Give to reputable organizations. It’s convenient to give money to the person standing in front of the grocery store collecting it, but it’s safer to go with an established charity, such as the American Red Cross or the Salvation Army.

Make sure it’s tax deductible. Not all non-profit organizations that solicit gifts are classified as charities. And you’ll want to be able to deduct what you give at tax time (be sure to get a receipt).

Ask lots of questions. How will my money be spent? When will these supplies be delivered? Don’t hand over your cash (or the bag of goods) until you’re satisfied with the answers you receive.

Write a check, don’t give cash. That way you can cancel the check if you suspect fraud later on. Just be sure to make your check out to the actually name of the charity–never to “cash.”

Never donate to an unsolicited caller (or over email). It’s impossible to really tell where you money is going. And you want written information about a charity before you donate to it.

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