Giving Tuesday 2020: Take these steps to make sure scammers don't take your donation

RALEIGH (WTVD) -- Now that Black Friday and Cyber Monday are behind us, it's Giving Tuesday.

It's a national day of giving which encourages you to help those in need. Before you give, you'll want to take the time to research your money is not going to scammers.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted many people hard, which means charities are even in more need of donations. Before you give, first research the charity, and be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity. Before donating, take the time to look at how the charity uses donations.

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"One of the great ways you can ensure you know where your money is going is look up the charity or organization at Give.org," said Catherine Honeycutt with the BBB. "This will allow you to see the insights into whether the organization is disclosing their information such as what percentage of donations go to the actual cause."

Another tool to use is Charity Navigator. It's a charity assessment organization that evaluates charitable organizations in the United States, operating as a free 501 organization that accepts no advertising or donations from the organizations it evaluates. The organization rates charities evaluating two areas of performance: Financial Health and Accountability & Transparency. The website is easy to use as you just type in the charity and it gives the rating.

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One example is the Durham Rescue Mission. A quick check and you can see the Durham Rescue Mission has a four-star rating, the highest rating a charity can get.

When a donor gives $1 to the Durham Rescue Mission, 86 cents of that dollar goes directly to the program and services.

"Here at the Durham Rescue Mission we are trying to get the word out about our needs," said Ernie Mills Jr. with the Durham Rescue Mission. "COVID-19 caused us to close our stores for over three months and that is a significant revenue stream for the Mission. In fact, one of our stores is still closed due to COVID-19. For a gift of $2.05, a donor can provide a meal to a hungry person in our community."

Before donating online, review the charity's website carefully. A responsible charity will include its mission, goals, and you should easily be able to find information on their finances. Also, avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. Don't succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today. Also, check with state charity officials. In North Carolina, non-profits are required to register before soliciting.

If you're looking to write off your donation, don't assume every organization claiming to do good is a tax-exempt charity. You can check an organization's tax status with the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Also, make sure your contribution is tax-deductible.
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