Cybersafetyconnections March 14, 2022, Vol#58 

  • Find out if organization is Sec.501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. 
  • Test the validity of a donation request to see if it is real. 
  • Tax implication of the country you make your donation to. 
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Kudos to all who have made donations to help Ukraine because of the Russian invasion. 

With all the good intentions and generosity of people, fraudsters are on the prowl to take advantage. 

So how do you ensure you do not get defrauded and the donations actually get put to the right use? 

Research – first thing first 

The first step is doing research on charities. Try to find out who they are, how long they have been in business, who they are connected to and whether they are a registered entity. 

Based on an article from the Journal of Accountancy , the first place to start is; 

Determine if the charity you are donating to is a Sec. 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization by looking at IRS Tax Exempt Organizations list, the state government’s business registry website and the state attorney general’s webpage for trusts and charities in the state where the charity was formed. 

Both Guidestar and Charity Navigator have additional information with GuideStar providing information on the latest form 990 Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax, filing from which you can get an idea of how much non-profit really expend on programs. 

Charity Navigator and other organizations use a number of different criteria to rate charities so you can research to understand what the criteria are. 

Checking out a donation request 

Expert advice that when you get a request from a charitable organization you are not to donate over the phone, through links in emails sent to request donation or be pressured to give instant donation. All this signs spell danger. 

Agreed that it is a terrible situation and Ukrainians need urgent help, yet you can tell the requester that you will go online to donate. Giving you the opportunity to donate online is proof that it may be a genuine request. 

Here is more guidance; 

  • Ensure you go to the correct website to donate. This is where GuideStar and Charity Navigators come. It is best to go to a reputable website, get the URL and type it in manually instead of clicking on a link. 
  • Keep away from websites that does not begin with ‘http” and the “URL” has no lock besides it.Just because there is “http” and lock does not make the website secure.And if these are absent it is not secure either. 
  • Avoid cash or debit card payments. Instead use credit card which provides more security. 

It is also recommended that you do not refer charities to others unless you have verified them as legitimate organizations and if others refer charities to you ask them if the charities have been verified. Should you know of an illegitimate charity, do not hesitate to call and report to the attorney general’s office. 

Tax Implication 

As much as it may help Ukrainians immediately when you donate to charities in countries surrounding Ukraine like Poland and Hungary, you need to be aware of how it will affect your taxes. 

True that the organizations closest to Ukraine may know how to serve them better, yet donation to the non-U.S charity is not tax deductible. This tax implication is especially useful for people who itemize deductions. 

At the end of the day, it will pay you to ensure your donation is going to a legitimate charity and used for right purpose. 

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