Spending money for good

With thousands of charities needing support on donation, it’s important to do some research to make sure your money is being used for the cause you want to support. It is also essential to make sure the charity is actually receiving your donation.

1. Choosing a charity
Your decision to support one charity over another is usually based on your interest in the cause the charity supports. You may also choose a charity as a way of remembering a deceased relative or friend. Whatever your motivation, it’s important to make sure you are comfortable with the charity’s activities and how it plans to use the donations it receives.

Donating directly to an overseas-based charity can be risky as it may be difficult to verify the information found on websites or social media sites.

2. How to donate
a) One-off or ongoing
You may decide to make a regular, set donation or you may prefer making a one-off donation following a particular fundraising campaign or an urgent need, like a natural disaster. Sometimes a charity will approach you directly for a cash donation or to participate in a fundraiser such as a raffle. This can happen on the street, over the phone or at your front door.

Smart tip
If you’ve donated to a charity before, the charity will keep your contact details for future campaigns. If you want to stop being contacted you can ask to be removed from their list.

b) Get involved
Donating to charity doesn’t necessarily mean a cash donation. You can contribute to your favourite charity by making a donation of goods, your time or even your skills or expertise.

3. Check it’s a legitimate charity
a) Questions to ask
If the name of the charity is unfamiliar, you should ask for more information about the charity, for example:
– What cause do you support?
– Where is the charity based?
– What are donations used for?

It pays to be careful, even if you get a satisfactory response to these questions. Even if you’ve heard of the charity, you should check that the person who contacts you is authorised to represent the charity.

If you’ve been approached face-to-face, ask to see some identification and a copy of the charity’s pledge form. These should contain:
– the full name of the organisation
– the business address
– the organisation’s logo

You should also call the charity directly to verify their contact details. Be sure to cross check their phone number in the telephone directory.

b) Be wary of giving credit card details
If you’ve been contacted by phone do not give out your credit card or banking details. There will be other ways of donating if it’s a reputable charity. Ask about these options and make sure you check the validity of any website or social media page you’re directed to.

Courtesy of ASIC’s Money Smart

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