Boston Public Library
Kirstein Business Library

Second Floor, McKim Building, Central Library, 617-859-2142

‘Tis the season for donation giving

by Amber De Angelis

It’s that time of year again. Many organizations are vying for donations from consumers using ads and street teams. But there are so many charities and nonprofits, how do you know they aren’t a scam? Here are some resources you can check out to make sure you are donating smartly.

Charity Navigator

This is a great resource to find a charity worth donating to or to find out whether or not you could be dealing with a scam. By creating a free account, you can see a charity’s 990′s and other financial information –including a breakdown of contributions, expenses, and revenue trends.

At the bottom of each profile, Charity Navigator will also list similar organizations which are highly rated and are the most viewed for that sector. Charity navigator also has Donor Advisories which are especially helpful if you think a charity soliciting you is not on the up and up. Advisories will link to news stories and highlight the atypical practices. Also Charity Navigator provides Top Ten lists and other content such as blog posts to help you make better decision.

Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office

If you are looking to see filings of a charity operating within Massachusetts, this is the place to go.  A simple search can pull up 990′s as well as state audits.  The AGO has also assembled some articles on how to donate wisely and what to look out for.

Our Databases

You can also do some news searching about a particular charity by using some of our databases.  You can search the Boston Globe, the New York Times, or newspapers around the country using General Onefile.  Use the charity name and keywords like scam or fraud to help narrow your search.  All you need is your library card and PIN.  If you don’t have a library card, you can check out our page on how to get one.  Or if you’re a Massachusetts resident and you can’t make it to one of our 25 locations, you should think about getting a eCard.

Bottom Line: There are a lot of free resources you use to do your homework on a charity.

Cheers!

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