While we go on and bring you some holiday gift ideas, why not put some of that hard earned cash that you got to charity. While many sites usually ignore such a thing, we think – despite the harsh economic times – it is time to help your fellow man out.
However, of course, there are scams out there among other security threats that could mean your information can be stolen. So here’s our handy guide of helping and donating to a charitable organisation this Holiday/Christmas season!
Use common sense
Common sense is the most important weapon you can use to combat these scams. Here are some warning signs that you may be able to spot, according to the ACCC: (It’s not to say all fake charities do these things, some legitimate ones do as well)
You have never heard of the charity before.
The person who claims to be collecting donations on behalf of the charity approaches you face-to-face and does not have any identification. Remember that even if they do have identification, it could be forged or meaningless.
The person tries to put pressure on you by making you feel guilty or selfish if you don’t want to give them money.
The person asking for money cannot or will not give you details about the charity, such as its full name, address or phone number.
The person gets defensive if you ask any questions about what the charity does and how much of the donation gets taken up by costs.
The person asks for a cash donation and they don’t want to accept a cheque. Or, they want the cheque to be made out to them rather than to the charity.
The person doesn’t want to give you a receipt. Or, they give you a receipt that does not have the charity’s details on it.
Check online if it is a legitimate!
One of the most crucial things is to first check if the business is legitimate, and there are several ways to check. First of which is the charitable organisation’s ABN number, which all businesses (including charities) must have and present on their website. You can usually find this number at the footer, and after getting that number, you can search the ABN Registrar in order to see if it has been registered as a business.
It should be noted that an ABN can be done by anyone, and it is simple to start one up. So, make sure you look at the listings carefully! Usually, their listings would include terms “Charitable Fund” or “Public Benevolent Institution” – and these are just different types of charities, just only for the Australian Tax Office. The full listings of the terms are here, but all these represents charities, and they are impossible to forge as there are strict restrictions to adhere to.
You can also look up the charity on the trusty Google search machine, or even better contact your state government’s Consumer Affairs or Fair Trading department and ask them to do a check for you, as all charities also need to be registered with the state.
Make sure the donation page is secured!
If you have noticed that whenever you login to a site, such as eBay or even your bank account, you would see a padlock on the right-hand side of the address bar or some blue thing on your address bar (depending on your browser) – this represents that the connection is secure!
And this is no different to charities. Make sure that the connection is secure, and this is often done by seeing if you get that padlock/blue thing.
As well, by clicking on it, you can examine the security certificate of the page. The only thing you are going to be looking for is if it has been verified. If it has been verified, then you can be safely assured that your connection will be secured.
It’s not to say that those without verification is not safe, but using one that has been verified does provide ease of mind.
The very obvious thing is to donate, and any amount is good (don’t forget, anything above $2 is tax deductible, depending on the charity – and most legitimate ones should allow for that). Of course, there are numerous amounts of charities out there, but we are going list some charities of focus:
- The Smith Family – http://www.thesmithfamily.com.au
- Red Cross Australia – http://redcross.org.au/
- World Vision Australia – http://www.worldvision.com.au
- Oxfam – http://www.oxfam.org.au/
- Plan Australia – http://www.plan.org.au/
- Doctors Without Borders – http://www.msf.org.au/
- CARE Australia – http://www.careaustralia.org.au/
- Salvation Army – http://www.salvationarmy.org.au/
- UNICEF Australia – http://www.unicef.org.au/
- Berry Street – http://www.berrystreet.org.au/
- Cancer Council Australia – http://www.berrystreet.org.au/
- Lifeline Australia – http://www.lifeline.org.au/
- RSPCA – http://www.rspca.org.au/
So come on fellow readers, donate! With just a few simple clicks, you can help these charities provide the services they provide – from treating animals to help those in poverty in Australia to around the world. Go on – just do it.
Image from: HowardLake/Flickr (CC)