The following tips and guidelines are for donors when making a contribution:
· Don’t be fooled by charities with worthy-sounding names, or names that might sound similar to other organizations. Some questionable charities create names that are intended to sound like other well-known charities and mislead potential donors.
· If an organization is slow to respond to requests for a website or more information, or doesn’t respond at all, consider giving to another organization.
· Don’t be fooled by technical-sounding terms like “tax i.d. number” or other jargon. Lots of different types of organizations have “tax i.d. numbers,” but it doesn’t make them charities. Organizations pushing these sorts of jargon should be avoided.
· If you have any doubt about the legitimacy of a charity, check it out with the local charity registration office (usually a division of the state attorney general’s office) and with the Better Business Bureau (BBB) or similar organizations.
· Ask a telemarketer if he or she is working for a percentage of the funds raised, is paid a set salary or fee, or is a volunteer. If the telemarketer is taking a percentage of funds raised, hang up the phone. Percentage-based compensation is considered unethical.
· While the strength of the charitable sector is its diversity of organizations, both large and small, relief efforts require significant resources. Contributions may be more effective in the short-term when given to larger and well-known organizations with experience in disaster relief.
Watt also pointed to documents such as AFP’s Code of Ethics and The Donor Bill of Rights that highlight what is and isn’t acceptable conduct for charities and fundraisers. By reviewing these documents at www.afpnet.org/ethics, donors will be more informed and confident about their charitable giving decisions.