In the Wake of a Tragedy, Make Sure Donations Count

Filed under: Community |

article by Amy Hebert – Consumer Education Specialist, FTC 

After the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, many people are looking for a way to help, like making a donation to a charity or fund.

Doing some research first will help ensure that your donation will go to a reputable organization that will use the money as promised — and as you intend.

ftc_logoIf you’re asked to make a charitable donation to support Newtown, consider these tips:

  • Donate to charities you know and trust. Be alert for charities that seem to have sprung up overnight.
  • Ask if a caller is a paid fundraiser, who they work for, and what percentage of your donation goes to the charity and to the fundraiser. If you don’t get a clear answer — or if you don’t like the answer you get — consider donating to a different organization.
  • Don’t give out personal or financial information — including your credit card or bank account number — unless you know the charity is reputable.
  • Never send cash: you can’t be sure the organization will receive your donation, and you won’t have a record for tax purposes.
  • Check out the charity with the Better Business Bureau’s (BBB) Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Watch, or GuideStar.
  • Find out if the charity or fundraiser must be registered in your state by contacting the National Association of State Charity Officials.

For more on the questions to ask and for a list of groups that can help you research a charity, go to