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As a business leader in your community, you may be asked to support local or national charities. Supporting a charity can be a great thing to do, but before you give your time, money, or your business’s name, make sure the request isn’t a scam.

To raise money for a charity, people or groups might ask your business to help - do things like:

  • Conduct a raffle
  • Collect donations through a table at your store’s entrance or a jar at your cashier’s stand
  • Set up a donation bin on your business’s property
  • Sell products to raise money, or promote a fundraising event to your customers
  • Have your business buy advertising or sponsor an event

Before you agree, make sure you’re dealing with a legitimate organization – and that the person asking for your help actually works with them. Because scammers are happy to take advantage of your generosity – and that of your customers, who may believe that you’ve vetted the people and charities raising money in your business property.

So, what next? A little bit of due diligence can help you.

Do some research

  1. Make it a policy to get anyone asking for fundraising help to give you basic information about the charity and the fundraiser. You can use this Charity Request Form. Be suspicious if they can’t give you this information.
  2. Search online for the charity’s name, plus words like “complaint,” “review,” “rating,” and “scam.” You can do the same search with the name of the person who submitted the form.
  3. Look up the charity’s name with groups like: BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, CharityWatch, and GuideStar. Check out the charity’s ratings and what these organizations say about them.

Also, you can check to see if the charity and the fundraiser are licensed and registered in your state. Not all states require this registration, but you can find out by contacting your state’s charities regulator. Be sure to let your regulator know, too, if you spot anything suspicious in your research.

There are plenty of groups doing great work that would love to leverage your business’s support. Make sure the charities you support are worthy of your business’s good name.