'Tis the season of charity, and where people are willing to part with their money, scam artists are also lining up to take it. Make sure any charitable donations you give this season go where you intend. We always advise “Checking First” before you invest, and the same holds true before you donate.
Make sure they are registered: We always tell people to check to make sure the person or firm offering them an investment is registered before they hand over their money, and it’s true for charitable donations too. The registries are different (for investments, use the Canadian Securities Administrator’s National Registration Search; for charities, use the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) Charities Listings) but the results are the same – you’ll know that the person/organization you’re giving your money to is actually registered to take it.
Do your own research: Run the name of the organization through a search engine to find news stories, social media sites or online forums that may have information. These sources can often tell you about unhappy victims, court cases and even rumours that you may want to further investigate.
Consider tax implications: If you are being promised a tax receipt for your donation, or if you are volunteering for an organization that is promising tax receipts, you’ll want to be clear on what is eligible before you donate. Contact the CRA for more information on charitable giving.
Be safe online: If you’re making any financial transaction online, whether it’s investing, donating, or even shopping, the security precautions are the same. Make sure the device (cellphone, tablet, laptop) you are using has up-to-date security software. Only make transactions through secure websites. To determine if a website is secure, once you reach the transaction page, you should see a lock image and a web address that begins with https in the URL. If the “s” is missing, the website is not secure.
Charity Law Information Program
Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Canada Revenue Agency