Online Giving Tip 1: Know Your Charity:
Make sure you have the exact name of the organisation. Some charities or charity websites have names that sound similar and you need to make sure it is a legitimate non-profit.
Before you give online you should be familiar with the name and reputation of the charity you intend to support.
If in doubt check with your country’s or province statutory body for charities.
2: Give to Legitimate:
Only give to charities recognised by the appropriate governmental body in their respective country.
Look for the charity to explain their tax-exempt non-profit (NGO) status in a FAQ or similar area of their website.
You should also be aware that some advocacy organisations are not allowed by law to issue tax-deductible receipts but you may still wish to support their work. However, the recommendation is to understand before you make the gift in terms of what type of tax receipt you can expect.
However, tax relief/recovery can be applied to donations from people who pay tax.
3: Feel Free To Ask Questions:
Any legitimate charity seeking your support via the Internet or offline will give you ample opportunities to ask questions and to learn about their mission.
You can learn a lot about a non-religious charity by asking for the Annual Return the charity files with the statutory authority each year or ask for a copy of their Annual Report & Accounts.
Nonprofit organisations registered as a charity are required by law to provide this information when asked. Non-registered charities should even at least produce, (and be able to supply), an Annual Report & Accounts.
It is recommended that any proposed giving to a charity should be examined through material available from the appropriate statutory authority who can also provide a service enabling the proposed donor to check well in advance that any charity collection they authorise is genuine.
How? By checking, for example, that:
– The charity or cause to benefit is reputable, not merely registered.
– The collector or organiser genuinely acts for that charity or cause.
Statutory authority(ies) website(s) also provides a service to charities to make it more likely that they will actually receive the proceeds of collections made in their name.
4: Give Safely:
Make sure the charity site uses encryption technology that ensures appropriate security for online donations and data transmission.
Before entering any information you consider sensitive (i.e. credit card number, personal identification data, etc), verify that the page requesting your credit card information is secure (encrypted). The letters https:// rather than http:// should precede the page’s URL and/or there should be an unbroken key or padlock symbol located in the corner of the web browser.
If in doubt contact the charity by telephone or by e-mail before you provide the information online.
Sponsorship Subscription Contribution(s) can also be made via online banking to make fast, easy and secure payments to a charity or alternatively a direct credit transfer payment from your business/organisation to a charity.
5: Consider Giving Directly:
The Internet provides tremendous opportunities to support the charity of your choice directly.
Do not get taken by charity or someone who is in need through chain letters be they by mail or online. Letters/e-mails that claim money will go to a specified charity each time the message is forwarded are not true.
If your charity does not provide online giving opportunities at their website, consider giving through recognised umbrella sources which provides all registered charities with the ability to receive online donations.
6: Demand Privacy:
Do not disclose personal information, such as your address, telephone number, social security number, or e-mail address unless you know who is collecting the information and how they plan to use it.
7: Keep Records:
Print a copy of the final confirmation screen that appears when you have made your gift.
In addition, keep a copy of your charitable gift confirmation e-mail for your records.
If you do not receive a confirmation of the gift by e-mail, (and in most cases by mail as well), do not give to that charity online again, until you are certain they have brought their online solicitation policies in line with these tips.
In such cases, contact the charity to make sure they received your gift and request confirmation of the gift.
8: Look For Contact:
A reputable charity will make certain contact information is readily available in case you need assistance with questions, problems, or service.
The charity should provide one or more ways to reach them offline as well as communicate with them directly online.
Look for the charity’s contact address, telephone, e-mail address, etc.
9: Know How Your Money Will Be Used:
The Internet provides charities with an opportunity to share more information about their work with you the donor.
You should be able to learn how the charity you contribute to plans to use the money donated to help others and fulfil their mission.
If you are not certain how the charity will use your charitable gift, ask!
10: Request Regular Information:
Your favourite charity should provide an opportunity to hear about their work regularly.
On their website or through e-mail updates the charity should provide information about how they fulfil their stated mission.
These updates should be received on a regular basis and should not be tied only to requests for contributions.
Consider before you Donate!
Do not rush:
Before you send a cheque to the first person that solicits your money by phone, stop and think about it. There are nearly over million organisations, or non-profit groups that take tax-exempt contributions. Many of them have similar sounding names but varying degrees of efficiency when it comes to spending your money.
In other words, you will need to do a little work to ensure your hard-earned pounds help the people/cause who need it most.
Tap the web
One of the easiest ways to analyse any charity is to turn to one of the Web sites that provide detailed and comparable information on charitable organisations.
There are a number of sources which maintains ratings on individual charities as well as information on how efficiently it spends donations. These can also include downloadable copies of revenue services filings for many non-profit groups. With organisations generally, you will find charities that have met select criteria to become a member.
Watch for con artists
Unfortunately, it happens that just about every time a major disaster occurs, a scam artist somewhere decides to set up a fake charity to milk pounds out of well-meaning contributors.
For that reason, do not send money to telephone solicitors you do not know. Watch out for mail solicitations as well. A common scam is to send a request for money disguised as a bill. Appeals that include sweepstakes promotions should disclose that you do not have to contribute to be eligible for any prizes.
If you are contacted by an organisation by phone or mail and you want to give to their cause, call the charity directly instead of donating through a third-party. Many provinces/countries that solicitors identify themselves as such and legitimate fundraisers will be happy to send you written information by mail if you request it. You should also ask for written proof that your donation is deductible.
Do not pay cash
Some charities send letters to all donors regardless of the size of their cheque, but many charities only provide receipts to those who give a certain ceiling limit or more. So you are better off making your donation by cheque. That way, you will have proof of your donation when tax time rolls around.
Also, know the difference between tax exempt and tax deductible. Tax-exempt means the organisation does not have to pay taxes, whereas tax deductible means you can deduct your contribution.
The more you give, the more control you may have over the pounds you donate. Some charities allow donors of – £5,000 or more to earmark the money for a specific use, in charity law parlance this is known as ‘restricted funds”.
Think of alternatives
It is likely that the massive amounts of pounds going to south Asia could strap smaller, domestic charities. You may want to consider writing a cheque to a local organisation at the same time you send money to help tsunami victims.
Code of Ethical Online Philanthropic Practices
Contributors are encouraged to be aware of non-Internet related fundraising practices that fall outside the scope of this article.
Philanthropic Fundraising Experience
- Clearly and specifically display and describe the organisation’s identity on the organisation’s website.
- Employ practices on the website that exhibit integrity, honesty, and truthfulness and seek to safeguard the public trust.
Privacy and Security
- Seek to inspire trust in every online transaction;
- Prominently display the opportunity for supporters to have their names removed from lists that are sold to, rented to, or exchanged with other organisations;
- Conduct online transactions through a system that employs high-level security technology to protect the donor’s personal information for both internal and external authorised use;
- Provide either an opt in and opt out mechanism to prevent unsolicited communications or solicitations by organisations that obtain e-mail addresses directly from the donor. Should lists be rented or exchanged, only those verified as having been obtained through donors or prospects ‘opting in-out’ will be used by a charity;
- Protect the interests and privacy of individuals interacting with their website;
Reference and guidance in the UK should be made to fundraising regulation and fundraising preference or existing governing bodies for fundraising and voluntary sector.
- Disclose the identity of the organisation or provider processing an online transaction;
- Guarantee that the name, logo and likeness of all parties to an online transaction belong to the party and will not be used without express permission;
- Maintain all appropriate governmental and regulatory designations or certifications;
- Provide both online and offline contact information.
- Provide protection to hold the donor harmless of any problem arising from a transaction conducted through the organisation’s website; promptly respond to all customer complaints and to employ best efforts to fairly resolve all legitimate complaints in a timely fashion.
- Ensure contributions are used to support the activities of the organisation to which they were donated;
- Ensure that legal control of contributions or proceeds from online transactions is transferred directly to the charity or expedited in the fastest possible way;
- Companies providing online services to charities will provide clear and full communication with the charity on all aspects of donor transactions, including the accurate and timely transmission of data related to online transactions; Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) policies will invariably be published on companies websites’.
- Stay informed regarding the best methods to ensure the ethical, secure and private nature of online fundraising/donation transactions;
- Adhere to the spirit as well as the letter of all applicable laws and regulations, including, but not limited to, charity solicitation and tax laws;
- Ensure that all services, recognition and other transactions promised on a website, in consideration of gift or transaction, will be fulfilled on a timely basis;
Disclose to the donor the nature of the relationship between the organisation processing the gift or transaction and the charity intended to benefit from the gift.
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