Stretch Your Dollar: What to look for when donating to charities

(WTNH)– From the hurricanes to the tragedy in Las Vegas, many of us are looking for ways to help our neighbors in need.

But it’s important to remember, not everyone has good intentions. We’re helping you stretch your dollar with what to look out for before you hand over your money.

From flooded streets in Houston, power outages in Florida and Puerto Rico battered by storms. To the earthquake in Mexico and jam-packed hospitals after a concert massacre. Recent tragedies have people lining up at blood drives and opening their wallets to help their neighbors.

But before you hand out more money, it’s important you scrutinize where it’s going.

Consumer Reports offered these tips:

First be wary of individuals or families collecting on crowd-funding sites. Experts say it’s hard to be sure the money will be used as it says it will. Unless you know them personally, give to a reputable charity.

Also, be on alert for people making appeals for money on social media. Scammers are increasingly using social media to lure people to give. They may create phony charity sites that appear authentic.

Next give cash. It gives the charity flexibility to buy what they need. If you want to give items, check on their needs first.

Be careful of “for-profit” companies that are hired to raise money for a charity. These are professional fundraisers. While it’s safe to give to them, it’s important to know, only a portion actually goes to the charity. The fundraiser also keeps a portion.

Lastly give over a period of time. Lots of donations are collected immediately after a disaster. Giving over a longer-term period provides more than just immediate disaster relief.

For help on finding a charity, go to charitynavigator.org.

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