Think back to the last time you donated to an online fundraising campaign. How much research did you actually do to find out the legitimacy of the cause or the person/company collecting the funds? While many charities genuinely raise funds using online methods, we’ve crafted some tips to help you make an informed decision the next time you’re solicited for a donation.

5 tips to spot an online fundraising scam

  1. Do your homework. Take time to research the fundraising initiative and try to avoid making emotional giving decisions. Donate to known, credible fundraising charities and carefully read the terms and conditions of the platform and the initiative. You can research whether a charity is actively registered via the CRA website (note that the CRA doesn’t have a list of non-registered charities — organizations established to benefit a particular individual or private group are considered to be established for private benevolence and do not qualify for registration).
  2. Recognize the signs of an online fundraising scam. Remember that people impacted by a disaster, accident or illness are rarely in a position to personally solicit donations – be cautious if you’re contacted by someone claiming to be the victim. Look for copycat names that might mislead or deceive you into thinking that you’re donating to a different cause, and watch for fundraising goals that seem too ambitious.
  3. Match your personal goals to the fundraiser. Not all charities and fundraisers respond to disasters or emergencies in the same way. Some may provide immediate assistance (such as food, water and shelter), while others may be more focused on long-term goals. Take time to find the charities that are accomplishing the work you want to see completed.
  4. Be cautious about giving out personal information. Don’t give out your personal or financial information unless you are sure the charity is reputable. If you choose to donate online, ensure your credit card number will be encrypted.
  5. Know where to go for help. If you feel like you’ve been a victim of fraud, contact your local police and the Canadian Anti-Fraud Centre.


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