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Are you considering donating money or certain valuable items to charity? Then this is a question you should be asking yourself. Donating to a fraudulent organization carries a high risk. Not only will you lose your money or items, but you also won’t be eligible for a tax deduction.

You’re probably safe donating to an international organization, but we understand you might not want to limit your scope of causes. There are some little-known causes that are worthwhile too. Here are some tools you can use to make sure your charity of choice is legitimate.

Charity Navigator

This tool rates charities based on their accountability, financial health, and transparency to help donors make the right choices about their contributions. It has assessed more than 8,000 tax-exempt charities. Check to see if your chosen charity is included.

Charity Watch

CW rates charities based not only on general, publicly available information, but also special criteria, accessible only to members.

IRS Nonprofit Charities Database

This would be an obvious choice for US residents. It has a tool called “The Exempt Organizations Select Check”, which lets you check if the organization is tax-exempt by entering its name. Some charities claim to be exempt, but actually aren’t.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance

The Alliance helps donors by assessing organizations based on effectiveness, governance, finances, information resources, and solicitations. Organizations earn a point per criterion. The charity should get 20/20. If it doesn’t, it might not be legit.


Before giving away your hard-earned cash, do your best to make sure the organization is legitimate and your contribution will have the desired effect. We have come to hear news of charity scams far too often. Doing research in advance gives one assurance that their donation is going to help those in need.