It is a sad fact that there are people who prey on the misfortunes of others by setting up fundraising scams. Understanding how crowdfunding works includes knowing how donors can decide that a fundraiser is authentic.
YouCaring encourages you to be 100 percent confident about the legitimacy of a cause before donating. If you have questions or concerns about a YouCaring fundraiser, please contact us.
How can you know if the cause or charity you are donating to is a legitimate individual or organization? Read on for advice about identifying and avoiding fundraising scams.
Tips for Avoiding Crowdfunding Scams
Here are some standard safeguards you can use when deciding if you wish to support a fundraiser:
- Use only well-known sites with a history of legitimate fundraisers.
- Check out the site on known crowdfunding review sites such as CrowdsUnite, which in 2014 named YouCaring as the Best Crowdfunding Site.
- Avoid giving money if solicited by phone or mass emails or letter-writing campaigns for which you cannot verify the organizer’s identity.
- Check out a charity or cause via the Better Business Bureau give.org site for reports of fundraising scams.
- Be cautious in evaluating causes that generate a lot of publicity, because they often attract scams. Recently there have been breast cancer fundraising scams and fake sites about Ebola.
Personal fundraising often occurs within a relatively small community of people, many of whom know each other. However, many fundraisers to assist disaster relief efforts and personal tragedies transcend communities, especially in the age of social media.
Know How Crowdfunding Works and How to Report Suspected Fraud
Since widespread attention can attract fraudsters, you should evaluate requests carefully. In situations where you are far removed from the scene but want to help those in need, use the Internet to check for local news stories of authentic organizations or persons to whom you can safely give.
One of the unique features about YouCaring is our attitude on fees. We don’t charge any. There is no fee to set up a fundraiser and no fee to withdraw the donations you receive. The only cost to you is the third party credit card processing fee (2.9% plus $0.30 per transaction). YouCaring receives nothing from this credit card fee.
We take fraud, scams and security concerns very seriously. We encourage you to report any appeal that you suspect is a scam to us. We will promptly investigate the issue by contacting the person organizing the fundraiser and ask for more information. Most often we find that the intentions are good and the cause just and appropriate. In any case, in which we are not entirely satisfied, we remove the fundraiser and close the account.
To learn more about what crowdfunding see our page how does fundraising work.
Barbara Spinelli loves writing about the changing trends in business, finance, and politics. She shared with us, how to verify a legitimate charity before you donate.
The holidays are a time when family and friends gather, exchange gifts, reminisce and sometimes offer aid and assistance to those who are in need. Unfortunately, there are scammers who use holidays and unfortunate events to their advantage and create fake charities that are not intended to help those who are in need. In the wake of hurricane Sandy, CNN.com reported more than 1,000 sites were registered with the words Sandy and relief in the domain. Some of these sites were registered before the hurricane hit. One site urged visitors to donate relief funds to help the victims of hurricane Sandy in Jamaica as the National Weather Service was reporting the storm was moving towards Jamaica. The site was tracked to North Carolina, but it wasn’t registered with the Secretary of State’s office in North Carolina and isn’t considered a legitimate charity.
Art Taylor, president of the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance says over 70 percent of Americans open their wallets before checking the legitimacy of the charity. These reports may seem discouraging, but giving up on helping people who are in need isn’t the answer. So how can you tell the real charities from the fake ones? We made a list of the best legitimate charities and threw in a few tips, so you can know the good places to donate from the bad.
Give With Caution
Richard Kolko, a special agent in the FBI says, “scam artists will do anything […] to steal your identity and your money as you try and make donations.” To avoid becoming the victim of a scam or of identity theft, Kolko suggests that donors use caution and apply these tips when making contributions:
- Be skeptical of individuals representing themselves as officials soliciting via e-mail for donations.
- Make contributions directly to known organizations rather than relying on others to make the donation on your behalf.
- Verify the legitimacy of the non-profit status of the organization.
- Do not provide personal or financial information to anyone who solicits contributions: providing such information may compromise your identity and make you vulnerable to identity theft.
With so many charities popping up daily for different causes, it’s difficult to know which ones are legitimate and will actually get aid to those who are in need and the ones that will take donors, and the victims of a disaster, for a nightmarish ride. CharityNavigator.org is a site that makes it their business to research, ask donors for reviews and report the business practices of each charity. They offer several top 10 lists for different categories, like the top 10 celebrity sponsored charities, the top most followed charities and the most financially transparent organizations. Although there are many legitimate charities worldwide, many of these large companies, like American Red Cross, spend more on their administration than they do on fundraising efforts.
The queen of holiday crafts, Martha Stewart, offered many suggestions on her site for legitimate charities to give money and goods during the holiday season. The charities highlighted range from the U.S. Marine’s Toys for Tots program to the Meals on Wheels association and Make a Wish Foundation. The foundations and their ideas might even inspire you to come up with your own charity, be sure to get it registered if you do organize a charity. The extra leg work done to become legitimate is worth it and will help get more positive press and donations for your charity. Let the giving begin!