Personal Finance

How to Donate Safely Online

How do you feel about donating online? Have you ever done it before? I’ve donated to charities in the past, but have done it the old fashioned way by mailing in a cheque. Everything is digital now and I know it would be much more convenient to donate online. I shop online all the time and am comfortable doing that so donating online should just like that right?

I wanted to make sure I understood how to donate online safely since it’s a new concept for me. I see requests for online donations on a daily basis in blog posts and my Twitter and Facebook feed. I want to be able to tell which ones are legit and which ones raise red flags.

This month, LifeLock is talking about donating safely online. I follow them on Facebook and Twitter and they always have such helpful tips on protecting yourself. I knew they would be my first stop in my research about donating online and what I should watch for and avoid. Today, I wanted to share some of this information that I learned with my readers so you can help to protect yourself when donating online as well.

How to Donate Safely Online

1. Don’t be alarmed if a site asks you for your full address. This information is required so that you can be issued a receipt. Remember you can claim donations on your taxes!

2. Identity thieves are mostly likely to find your personal data when you donate via unsolicited emails requesting personal data, pre-approved credit card offers and personal and financial information found in the garbage. Take care when disposing of any kind of sensitive information!!

3. Be very careful when you receive an unsolicited email to donate online. You have to make sure that the link doesn’t leand to a clone site and if there’s an attachment be wary that it doesn’t contain a virus. I get multiple phishing emails every day and I’m pretty good at spotting them. I wouldn’t likely ever donate from an unsolicited email just to be on the safe side. I would prefer to go to the site on my own and donate that way. Then I know that it is legit and my money is going to where it’s supposed to go.

4. Look for URLs that begin with “https”. That means that the site is encrypted and there’s a lower risk of a security breach.
I also asked some blogger friends of mine to share their tips about donating online.

I usually either use something like Freecycle or a community like Momshare so that I know the person I am donating to really needs the exact thing I am giving away. Kat at Generations of Savings

My favorite place to donate is Kiva. I have already made 10 loans to people all over the country. Kiva loans money to help people start or expand their business. The money is repaid and you are then able to reloan again. Always look for charities that send MOST of the donations to where it is needed. There should not be a big administrative overhead. Cecile at The Shopping Duck

I use sites like Charity Navigator and the Better Business Bureau to research the charities that I am giving to. Suki at Super Duper Fantastic

I’ve used GoFundMe to donate to families looking for help with things like medical bills due to chronic/terminal illness. I also donate to Child’s Play organization online which helps provide kids in hospitals with games to keep them occupied. And search twitter for hashtags to retweet for donation matches. Darcy at Tales from the Nursery

I really like supporting my local food bank & a crisis/homeless shelter. Unlike some others, I found it locally, know its legit and valid for easy online donations. And the food bank often has times there will double my donation. But honestly, Klout just turned me onto Razoo. Its site is great for finding a number of valid causes, fundraisers, or just donating to your favorite local charities. I liked that it can really help small-town charities get the word out for more nationwide assistance. I’ve been really impressed using it. Rachel at Roasted Beanz

When donating online it is very important to check that they are a legitimate charity. Look for their Tax Exempt or Non-Profit Status listed on their website. Do not donate to online charities unless they are recognized by their respective country. It is also crucial to ensure that they encrypt their submission page – check that the url for the donation page starts with. Elizabeth at Frugal Mom Eh!

I now feel much more informed to donate safely online and I’m planning to give money to a few of my favourite charities this holiday season. What tips do you have about donating safely online?

I am a LifeLock Brand Ambassador and was compensated for this post. Opinions expressed are 100% my own.

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

more by Stacie »