Saturday, March 14, 2015

On-line Fundraising: How to Avoid Being Scammed

Chances are someone has sent you an e-mail, or you’ve seen a Facebook posting about a fundraising need that is being done by GoFundMe or a similar site. Recently, the downside of the ease of which these sites can be set up was brought home to me when I learned about a colleague’s death and how a fraudulent GoFundMe site was set up in his name. His widow sent out an announcement that said Ted (not his real name) is well-known in the surrounding communities and would not want people giving her money in his name. Please DO NOT SEND MONEY TO HER SITE! In the comment section, a number of people noted that this individual had been involved in other fundraising scams.

 “Crowd funding” sites, like GoFundMe, can be a good way to raise money quickly, and are used by condition specific organizations and those with serious immediate needs.  Understand though there are terms and conditions with these sites, and they do take a percentage (in the case of GoFundMe it’ 5%). 

Unfortunately there are people that can and will take advantage of family, friends and community’s generosity in emergent situations. In order to avoid scams and ensure that your donation will be used in the manner you intended, consider the following:

• Only donate to causes and people you personally know and trust.

• Do your research. Check out the organizer’s past accounts.

• Ask questions. If they take a long time responding, chances are greater it’s a scam. 

    Avoid giving money if solicited by phone or mass emails or letter-writing campaigns for which you cannot verify the organizer’s identity. 

    Check out a charity or cause via the Better Business Bureau site for reports of fundraising scams. 

• Be cautious in evaluating causes that generate a lot of publicity, because they often attract scams. Breast cancer and animal rights causes are often targets for scams.

Learn more about Crowd funding and the best sites to use at Crowdsunite

 While “Crowd funding” has its purpose, you may want to consider these options as well:
• Donate directly to the individual or to a bank account that has been legitimately set up in their name.
• Give gift certificates for goods and services that are needed.
• Help to organize a fundraiser for a specific need.
• Pace your giving. While there is immediate need, for a major loss, such as a fire, death or significant illness, the needs extend well beyond the initial burst of activity of a week to 10 days.
• Give of yourself. While money is certainly needed in many of these situations, there are a number of practical details, such as childcare, cleaning, lawn care, rides etc. that need tending to.

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