Holiday Scams: Know Who You’re Donating to

Holiday Scams: Know Who You’re Donating to


Around the holidays, charitable giving increases dramatically. Head to any outlet store and you’ll see volunteers ringing bells and collecting money for various charitable causes.

However, how much do you know about the organizations that you’re donating to? It’s important to do your research before you donate so you don’t get scammed by for-profit companies or people with ill intent.

In-Person Volunteers

When you see a volunteer outside a store with a collection jar and a bell, your first instinct might be to stuff a few dollars into their jar. However, consider doing a bit of research first.

The entire purpose of having the bell and the public location is to shame people who don’t impulsively put money in the jar: the thought behind it is that you’ll be motivated to give if you see others around you doing the same.

However, the person collecting the money might not even work for a charity. There is a possibility that they’re running a scam, using a Salvation Army or similar charity’s name to collect money for themselves instead of for the needy.

If the person is set up in front of a business, ask the people that work there if they know that the person is legitimately working for a charity. If they’re not familiar with the person, it’s safer to simply donate to the charity online than through a stranger who might not even work for that charity.

Through Businesses

When you check out at the grocery store, the clerk will often ask you if you’d like to also donate to a charitable cause. However, before you do, consider why a for-profit business might ask you to make a charitable donation.

Are they not wealthy enough to donate to charity on their own without hassling their customers? If the company is offering to match your donation, then the endeavor could be beneficial. However, if they’re simply soliciting you to donate, think about why this might be.

Businesses receive considerable tax breaks for charitable giving. If you’re donating through a business, that’s a donation they might be able to write off on their taxes.

Consider, instead, donating to the charity in question (or one of your choice) through their official website. This way, you can rest assured knowing the money is being used to help those in need, not to enrich an already-wealthy company.

The safest bet when it comes to holiday giving is to either drop of goods like food or toys to those in need directly or to donate to reputable charities through their official webpage. That way, you know your giving is going to where it is most needed.