59ºF

How to make sure your donations are going to legitimate charities

Avoid bogus charities by using watchdog websites, Florida attorney general’s charity guide

Give fewer gifts: This doesn't mean you need to be a Scrooge -- just get a little more creative. Give homemade food, tickets to a concert, gift certificates to a spa or a donation to a favorite cause in the receiver's name. If you still want to put a more traditional gift under the tree, buy one wrapped in as little packaging as possible, recommends PlanetGreen.com. (iStock)

The holiday season is a great time for nonprofits to raise funds for their causes, however, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody warns some people will try to take advantage of that giving spirit through bogus charities.

To avoid scams and help consumers make sure their dollars are going to legitimate charities, Moody released the 2019 Holiday Consumer Protection Guide. The guide offers tips to consumers to help them determine whether a charity is legitimate.

“When these things approach and people start spending money or giving money, those that are looking to take advantage of those that are generous or looking to spend their money pounce," Moody said.

Before donating, consumers can check whether the charity is registered and eligible to solicit in Florida. To see if the charity is registered with the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, visit www.FDACS.gov/ConsumerServices or call 800-HELP-FLA (800-435-7352).

Watchdog organizations, including CharityNavigator.org and Guidestar.org, will also provide valuable information to consumers. The websites assess and evaluate charities, including how much of your donation will go toward charitable programs versus overhead costs and fundraising.

Moody says it’s easier to avoid bogus charities upfront, rather than trying to recoup your money after you’ve been scammed.

“We want people on the front end to be smart. Research these organizations," Moody said. "Make sure they are putting that money to good use because people really need it at this time of year.”

View the 2019 Holiday Consumer Guide here.


About the Author: