You will be redirected to the page you want to view in  seconds.

Give smart: Check out charities before making your donation

Apr. 7, 2011 - 11:44AM   |   Last Updated: Apr. 7, 2011 - 11:44AM  |  
  • Filed Under

They come by email, by phone, by Facebook. Sometimes they knock on your door. Sometimes they're simply on the street or in your local mall.

They pull at your heartstrings to help the victims of the tragedy in Japan. After all, who hasn't been wracked by the images of that devastation?

Those in the military community have a long tradition of generosity when it comes to helping others in unfortunate circumstances.

But resist the urge to give right away at least until you've checked out the charity on whose behalf you are being solicited.

Don't let a solicitor make you feel guilty: He may say the money is going to the disaster victims, but in reality, you might be lining the pockets of a scammer taking advantage of someone else's misery. They come out of the woodwork after every disaster.

There are legitimate organizations that will make the best use of your money, however. For starters, visit the">American Red Cross and the">U.S. Agency for International Development.

Groups you may have a close affiliation with such as your church, synagogue or mosque may have long-established relief efforts to help disaster victims.

If you want to help military families who may be affected, contact the military relief society chapter on your installation or visit the">Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society,">Army Emergency Relief,">Air Force Aid Society or">Coast Guard Mutual Assistance.

Some tips from the Federal Trade Commission and the Better Business Bureau:

Be wary of on-the-spot solicitations, especially when they're long on emotion and short on facts about what the charity will do with your money.

Avoid cash gifts or wiring money. Pay with a check made out to the charity not the solicitor for security and tax reasons.

Ask for the name of the charity if the solicitor doesn't provide it immediately. Ask what percentage of your donation will support the charity's cause described in the solicitation.

Do not provide credit card information or bank information when a telemarketer calls you. Instead, ask the telemarketer to send you information and review it before you donate. Verify that the charity has authorized the solicitation.

Check out charities at">,"> or"> Contact the office that regulates charitable organizations and solicitations in your state; you can find that office by visiting the">National Association of State Charity Officials.

If you're texting a donation, be aware it may not reach the charity immediately. Although major cellphone carriers work to process donations quickly, a high volume of donations may slow things down. If you do text, make sure you're not inadvertently signing up for monthly charges or to receive future solicitations from the charity or affiliated marketing companies.

Answers by RallyPoint

Join trending discussions in the military's #1 professional community. See what members like yourself have to say from across the DoD.

More In Pay & Benefits

Start your day with a roundup of top defense news.

VA Home Loan

Search By:

Product Options:
Zip Code:

News for your in-box

Sign up now for free Military Times E-Reports. Choose from Money and Education. Subscribers: log in for premium e-newsletters.

This Week's Navy Times

This Week's Navy Times

Go mustang
LDO and warrant careers offer more authority, a pay hike and big retirement payout

Subscribe for Print or Digital delivery today!

MilitaryTimes Green Trusted Classifieds Looking to buy, sell and connect on Military Times?
Browse expanded listings across hundreds of military installations.
Faces of valorHonoring those who fought and died in Operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom.
hall of valorThe Hall of Valor is a searchable database of valor award citations collected by Doug Sterner, a Vietnam veteran and Military Times contributing editor, and by Military Times staff.

All you need to know about your military benefits.

Benefits handbook

Guard & Reserve All you need to know about the Guard & Reserve.

guard and reserve handbook