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How to make sure you're not being scammed during the season of giving

Posted at 6:35 PM, Nov 30, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-30 19:35:26-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This time of year can bring out the best in people, from donating to volunteering.

However, it can also bring out the worst, particularly people who want to scam you.

Charity Navigator reminds folks to think with their heart and their head.

It's an online tool that evaluates nonprofits that has been around for 20 years.

The website lists 1.6 million nonprofits and rates them on transparency and if they're doing what they claim to do.

You can type in the name of the charity to check their financial reports and audits.

"We do look for nonprofits that are publishing their financials," Kevin Scally with Charity Navigator said. "Most good, upstanding [and] trustworthy organizations are going to have a dedicated place on their website or materials they'll send to you. "And that should have listed their audited financials where you'd actually be able to look at how much is going toward a program, versus how much is going toward overhead."

If you type in the name of a charity you want to donate to and nothing comes up, the charity could be bogus or it could be so new that it hasn't been registered on the website yet.

In that case, you can also check the Internal Revenue Service website.

Any organization with three or four stars or that scores 75 and higher out of 100 points, is highly rated. In those cases, Scally says you can be confident your dollars are going to the right place.

"We issue what's called Charity Navigator advisories, so these are for reported or confirmed misconduct in nonprofits," Scally said. "So, it's everything from embezzlement to an outright scam."

Scally continued to describe the type of resources that Charity Navigator can offer.

"At any given time, there's about 500 advisories on Charity Navigator," he said. "This is from working with the attorney general or getting reports from reputable news sources. And in the grand scheme of things, 500 is a pretty small number but, of course, there are some bad players unfortunately."