Giving to Charities That Help Veterans

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When you donate to help veterans, you want your donation to go to a charity that really helps them and their families. Doing a little bit of research and asking questions will help you do that.

Many charities do a great job supporting our nation’s veterans with education, training, counseling, financial assistance, and more. But a few organizations take advantage of people’s generosity. They use images and tell compelling stories that appeal to our hearts and patriotism, but they lie about what they do and how they spend donors’ money. Often, they use names that sound like well-known charities or that include words like veteran, foundation, operation, hero, wounded, disabled, or homeless. Just because those words are in the organization’s name doesn’t mean it actually helps veterans.

You want to make your donation count. Read these tips to help you donate wisely.

Do your research

  • Search the charity’s name online with words like “complaint” and “scam.”
  • Check out reports and ratings through trustworthy organizations like BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and GuideStar.
  • See if the charity is registered with your state charity regulator. Most states require charities to register before soliciting. You can find your state regulator at nasconet.org.
  • Use the IRS’s Tax Exempt Organization Search to see if your donation is tax-deductible.

Ask questions

  • What’s the charity’s website, address, and mission?
  • How much of your donation will go directly to services that help veterans, rather than fundraising?
  • How much of your donation will be used for the specific programs you want to support?
  • If supporting veterans in your own community is important to you, ask how the charity spends money in your area.

Be careful how you pay

  • If someone asks you to send them cash, wire money, donate by gift card, or leave money under your front door mat for pick-up, don’t do it. That’s how scammers often ask you to pay. It’s safer to pay by credit card or check.
  • If you’re donating online, check that the webpage where you enter your payment information has “https” in the web address. That means your information is transmitted securely.
  • Legitimate charities will give you a receipt that shows the amount of your donation. Keep that record and check your credit card statements to make sure you’re only charged for the donation you wanted to make.

Watch out for scammers’ tricks

  • They spoof caller ID to make their fundraising calls look like they’re from your local area code, a Washington, D.C. area code, or from an organization you know.
  • They pressure you into donating immediately before you have time to do any research. A legitimate charity will welcome your donation at any time.
  • They claim that you’ll win a sweepstakes or get a prize if you donate, which is against the law.
  • They thank you for a donation you don’t remember making. Scammers do that to trick you into thinking you actually made a pledge, and guilt you into sending money.

What about donation requests through social media and crowdfunding sites?

Many requests for donations through social media and crowdfunding sites are legitimate, but some are scams. For example, there are people who misuse real pictures and stories of veterans to get you to donate, but the money goes into their own pockets. Crowdfunding sites often have little control over who uses them and how donations are spent. Research any charity before you give. Also, if tax deductions are important to you, remember that donations to individuals are not tax-deductible.

The safest way to give on social media or through crowdfunding is to donate to people you actually know who contact you about a specific project. Don’t assume that solicitations on social media or crowdfunding sites are legitimate ― even when they are shared or liked by your friends. Do your own research. Call or contact your friends offline and ask them about the post they shared.

Help stop veteran charity scams

Report veteran charity scams to the Federal Trade Commission at FTC.gov/complaint and to your state charity regulator. (Find your state regulator’s contact information at nasconet.org.) Give as much information as you can in your report including, the name of the charity, the name of the fundraiser who contacted you, their phone number, website, address, and any other details they gave about the charity.

Tagged with: charity, fraud