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Safely Donating to Charities Online

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Donating to Charities Online

 
Today, many of the things that used to require a trip to the bank and/or post office can be done with a click or two online. Yet many people are wary about online donation. It’s true that we sometimes hear media reports about scammers that masquerade as representatives from charities -- and no one wants to disclose credit card information in error to thieves. However, online giving saves legitimate charities a great deal of funds that can then be channelled into programs, making it a great option for both the donor and the organization.
 
There are various ways to protect yourself when donating online. Remember that the support you give to charities is greatly appreciated by not-for-profit organizations, and by the people and causes they work for.
 

Researching Charities

 
One of the first things to remember about donating to charity is to always take the time to consider the cause carefully. The internet has also made research much easier, so whenever you’re considering donating to a charity, study their website. The website should give you a good idea of how long the charity has been operating, what projects they sponsor, where they do their work, and whether or not they have corporate sponsorships. There are also various checks and safeguards you can use when considering whether to donate online.
 
The most useful of these is checking to make sure the charity is registered with the Canadian Revenue Agency. A search of the charity’s page on the CRA website will give you a summary of what the charity does, where it operates, information about financial activities dating back several years, and other useful facts. The CRA website also lists the charitable number assigned to the organization, and statistics about receipts. This website also has useful information about claiming charitable tax credits.
 
Have a look at the information provided, and weigh various factors. What percentage of money is used for administration, for example, and how much goes toward operating programs? Make sure to take into account the types of programs offered and how difficult they might be to deliver. Compare charities that provide similar programs and see how they measure up.
 
Of course, if the charity is not listed on the CRA website, you will want to make further inquiries before donating.
 

Protecting Your Information

 
Before giving online, make sure that the charity’s website includes contact information so that you can reach them if you don’t receive a receipt. Always print the confirmation page, or take a screen shot of it after giving.
 
If you’re still apprehensive about giving online, you can find ways to make it safer. A website called Canada Gives allows you to donate to any charity registered in Canada using their service. This site has various ways to give, and includes options with increased safety features, such as using PayPal or giving a charity gift card. Third-party sites, will, however, charge a small fee, making your donation to the charity slightly smaller.
 
Give generously, but give wisely – and make our world a better place by donating to charities online!

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