When a tragedy happens people flock to find a way to help. GoFundMe seems to lead the charge in organizing people around a cause and provides an easy way to donate. In 2022 alone GoFundMe reported their site received “one donation every second with 28 million people giving a combined $25 billion in 2022 to nonprofits and charities.” The scary thing is where there are options to help, there are more options to get scammed. Here are a few tips on what to check before you donate.

  1. How much of the funds will be released to the people/family impacted? If you’re giving on a platform that requires a credit card there will be merchant fees, but always look to see if there are additional fees taken. You want to ensure that 95% of what you give gets to the person, family, or organization who needs it.
  2. If you’re donating through GoFundMe or another merchant page (even Venmo) is the point of contact directly connected to the individual or family? Look up the individual who is organizing the page, find their contact information, and ensure they are personally tied to the individual or family they will be helping.
  3. If you are donating to a nonprofit, check out their GuideStar profile. This website provides the most comprehensive information on nonprofit organizations. This includes how much they spend on operating expenditures and fundraising, and will give you their website, address, and all their current contact information. BEWARE: scammers often set up organizations with the same name but run them as a scam. Checking this website will help ensure you are supporting the nonprofit.
  4. If you are donating to a charity, contact their donor relations coordinator or development director. Whether you are giving $5 or $500,000 – the staff should take great care to get you to the right place to contribute. If you can’t reach anyone, perhaps you shouldn’t donate.
  5. Pay by credit card – this offers a little bit of cover in the event of a scam.
  6. Watch your credit card statements to ensure repeat donations don’t appear on your card.

Unfortunately, there will always be bad actors in every industry trying to scam good-hearted and generous people out of money. Nothing makes my blood boil more as a fundraiser than when bad actors take advantage of good people. This behavior takes away from the individual and nonprofits needing the support. If you walk through these simple steps you should be in the clear to donate to causes close to your heart.