The end of the year of is a great time to donate to your favorite charity.  Your year-end gift will be a blessing to those in need and it will give you a blessing come tax time – it’s win-win!

While there are many great charities in and around the Birmingham area, there are those who would take advantage of your generosity.  Here’s how you can avoid getting scammed and make sure your donation is going to a credible charity:

1. See How Long the Organization has Been Around – While there are many great NEW charities, longevity can help you determine if it’s a worthwhile cause or a fly-by-night operation.  Do your homework to see how long the nonprofit has been around and what they’ve done in the time they’ve been in existence.

2. Will They Allow You to Visit?  Most legitimate organizations would LOVE the chance to show you around.  It’s a great way to see how your support makes a difference.  But if they flat-out turn down your request for a visit, that could be a big red flag.  (Want to tour the Shepura Men’s Center or Jessie’s Place?  Call us at (205) 323-5878.)

3. Are They Part of an Independent Group? Most genuine charities are part of at least one independent evaluating group – many nonprofits are part of more than one.  You can do your homework on Charity Navigator, GuideStar, the Association of Gospel Rescue Missions, the Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability and more.  These third-party sites are totally unbiased and give you real information on the charities you’re interested in supporting.

4. Do They Provide Their Financial Records?  Authentic organizations, typically provide at least one form of financial documentation for donors to review.  These financial docs can include their annual 990, most recent financial audit, annual report or other reports.  Most will also disclose the salary of their Executive Director/CEO/President.  If none of these are available to you to review, or you’re denied upon request, that could be another big red flag.  (You can check out the Mission’s financial records on our Financial Credibility page.)