• Bob Brooks

How Do You Know if a Non-Profit is Legit?

I will be the first to admit that I am cynical at times. In almost 18 1/2 years of radio, I have come across non-profits of all kinds. Some are legitimate non-profit ministries with a mission. Some are just about raising the money, which begs the question –is this benefiting the organizers of the non-profits or genuinely being put into ministry? Then amongst legit non-profits, you have the carnival callers selling snake oil.

I think that it is essential to be prudent and prayerful when deciding where to allocate God's money. Today more than ever, non-profit ministries are struggling with a decline in giving. A dear friend of mine sent some great information to consider when evaluating a non-profit. *Please know that these are not mine, and unfortunately, I cannot find the source to give the author credit properly.

Real charities will always be happy to take your money a couple of days or even a couple weeks after they first make contact with you, so take time to do your research. High-pressure appeals that claim a need is "urgent" are often a warning sign of a scam.

Take time to ask the following questions before you donate:

What is the charity's exact name? Scam artists often use names that sound familiar to reputable charitable organizations to solicit donations.

Is the charity registered with the Secretary of State's Office? If so, what is their registration number?

Does the charity operate nationally? If so, what is the address of its national offices?

Does it operate locally or have a local center? If so, what is the address of its local office?

How much of my donation will go to charitable activities?

How much of my donation will go to administrative expenses?

Is the call being made by a professional solicitor? If so, what percent of the donation will they receive, and are they registered with the Secretary of State's Office? What is their registration number?

Is my donation tax-deductible, i.e., can I deduct it from my own federal income tax return?

Ask to be sent financial statements from the organization to determine who will benefit from your donation.

If you are purchasing a product that supports a charitable organization, always ask what percentage of the amount you spend will support the charity. If it is a product, you do not want or need, you might be able to better help the charity by donating directly.

Search the charity online through a search engine. Check for complaints filed by other consumers.

Contact your local Better Business Bureau to see if there are any complaints about the charity or search for the charity online at

Just remember, not all charities have the same mission for helping others.