You have it in your heart to give to a charity. There is a site set up for donations like yours. All good right? Not so fast!
Who organized the effort? How much will ACTUALLY go to the intended recipients? What if you are scammed? Listen in as attorney Kelsi Lane gives some good tips. Here are some more from foolproofme.org.
Beware of Campaigns Posted After a Tragedy or Natural Disaster
The cause can be personal or local, such as supporting medical help for a local family injured in an auto wreck. In one recent case, a woman was prosecuted for raising money for cancer treatments when she was not ill. So if the organizer is an individual, ask exactly how the money will be distributed and accounted for. Do a web search on the individual also. Remember, you just have their word for what they plan to do.
In many cases, the cause is regional, national or global, such as campaigns that appear after tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, earthquakes, or the current wildfires in the western U.S. Such campaigns are a hotbed for fraud, and they pop up like mushrooms. Always thoroughly check out charitable causes. Check out the charitable organization's track record with the Better Business Bureau (regional BBBs often evaluate local groups) and with national sites such as guidestar.org, charitywatch.org and charitynavigator.org. In the case of disaster relief, it is probably wiser to give money to an established nonprofit charitable organization that has a track record of accountability.
Don't Give More Than You Can Afford
Remember, if you are supporting the development of a new product—from a new online game to an innovative tech gadget—there is no guarantee that the product will be successfully brought to market. Also a large percentage of eventually successful projects experience delays.
If you are supporting a charitable cause, there is no real guarantee that the money will actually go where the campaign says it will. If you are giving to a creative event, only the individual's or group's integrity or track record indicates that the artist will complete that exhibit of ground-breaking digital art, that the newbie filmmakers will shoot that indie film, or that the choral group will conduct the new composition and present the winners in concert. So support a project you like, but don't give more than you can afford.
File a Complaint about Scams
If you have been defrauded or have good reasons to suspect a fraud, report your experience to the crowdfunding platform. Also make a complaint to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) Complaint Assistant.