Skip to main content

As the holidays – and the end of the tax year – draw near, people are likely to approach small business owners with requests for charitable contributions. But scammers are hard at work with their own holiday rush. To protect your business from fraud and to amplify the impact of your donations on the charities that matter to you, these simple steps can help ensure that Giving Tuesday isn’t followed by Regretful Wednesday.

A standard list of questions can help you make wiser decisions.  Charitable contributions should come from the heart and the head. Bona fide charities are usually happy to discuss their mission and plans for the future. Before donating, ask for:

  • the exact name and address of the organization
  • a website you can review
  • the percentage of donations they spend on fund-raising
  • a clear answer on whether they’re tax exempt
  • a recap of how long the group has been in operation and what they’ve accomplished
  • how they intend to use your contribution.

To avoid fly-by-nighters, put charitable appeals to the test.  The holidays are the busy season for many legitimate nonprofits, but sound-alike scammers may contact you, too. Evaluate telemarketing pitches with heightened scrutiny. In an exercise of due diligence, search for the name of the group with words like “scam” or “complaint.” Consult in-depth reviews from trusted charity watchdogs.

Pump the brakes if you’re pressured for an on-the-spot contribution.  Just as you avoid impulse purchases, it’s wise to avoid impulse contributions. The best advice is that before you donate, sleep on it. That includes social media pleas, crowdfunding campaigns organized by friends and colleagues, and requests from local groups that you display a sign or collect contributions at the register. “Let us give it some thought” can get your small business the time you need to evaluate the merits of a request.

Looking for more advice on making your contributions count? Visit

It is your choice whether to submit a comment. If you do, you must create a user name, or we will not post your comment. The Federal Trade Commission Act authorizes this information collection for purposes of managing online comments. Comments and user names are part of the Federal Trade Commission’s (FTC) public records system, and user names also are part of the FTC’s computer user records system. We may routinely use these records as described in the FTC’s Privacy Act system notices. For more information on how the FTC handles information that we collect, please read our privacy policy.

The purpose of this blog and its comments section is to inform readers about Federal Trade Commission activity, and share information to help them avoid, report, and recover from fraud, scams, and bad business practices. Your thoughts, ideas, and concerns are welcome, and we encourage comments. But keep in mind, this is a moderated blog. We review all comments before they are posted, and we won’t post comments that don’t comply with our commenting policy. We expect commenters to treat each other and the blog writers with respect.

  • We won’t post off-topic comments, repeated identical comments, or comments that include sales pitches or promotions.
  • We won’t post comments that include vulgar messages, personal attacks by name, or offensive terms that target specific people or groups.
  • We won’t post threats, defamatory statements, or suggestions or encouragement of illegal activity.
  • We won’t post comments that include personal information, like Social Security numbers, account numbers, home addresses, and email addresses. To file a detailed report about a scam, go to

We don't edit comments to remove objectionable content, so please ensure that your comment contains none of the above. The comments posted on this blog become part of the public domain. To protect your privacy and the privacy of other people, please do not include personal information. Opinions in comments that appear in this blog belong to the individuals who expressed them. They do not belong to or represent views of the Federal Trade Commission.

More from the Business Blog

Get Business Blog updates