1) Know your rights. That is, the Donor Bill of Rights. There are certain things that donors are entitled to from non-profits like information about where their money is going and answers to questions. Read the Donor Bill of Rights and familiarize yourself with it so that you are a more educated donor when looking for charities. You may want to print out a copy and keep it for
2) Research the organisation first. It’s always good to make sure you’re donating to a legitimate non-profit organization.
3) Ask for the name, address, phone number and whether or not the organisation is registered. If the presenter claims that it’s registered, get a registration number. An established foundation usually provides the names of the Board of Directors and general contact information.
4) Ask for a copy of their annual report and read over the non-profit's financial information.These are available on-line from organizations like "Guidestar" listed below. If 10% or more of a non-profit's income goes toward expenses then your donation may not be benefiting those the organisation claims to help.
5) Make sure the website of the organisation you’re donating to uses encryption technology before entering any sensitive information (i.e. credit card number or bank draft info).
7) Get a receipt! This allows you to document your donation for tax reasons, and for your own personal records. Not to mention if anything ever does arise, you’ll have the proper “paper trail".
8) Be wary of email solicitations. Always be cautious when you receive a charity donation request by email. Some legitimate charities will email people who have donated before, but never respond to requests where you’ve never donated, unless you are familiar with the organization.
9) To ultimately ensure your money goes where you intend it to go, you should always donate directly to the organization.
10) Be wary of organizations that seem to exist just to promote the non-profit's head or spokesperson. A non-profit should focus on the beneficiaries of its mission.
11) If you have questions or concerns contact your State's Attorney General's Office or Charity Regulator. If you have a concern, the chances are good that others have had concerns too.