There are dozens, if not hundreds of wonderful military charities dedicated to making the lives of service members, veterans, and their family members or survivors, a little brighter. Many veterans have given more than we as a nation could ever rightfully ask. And it’s great to be able to give back to our veteran community and show the we appreciate the sacrifices they have made. Unfortunately, whenever money is involved the door is open for scammers to try and part you from your hard earned money.
We don’t need to cover all the scams and fraudulent military charities out there. This has been done by many sites, including this example of a man who took almost $2 million in cash as a “retirement” for his work (among other high valued perks) and this person who bilked unsuspecting donors out of over $100 million over seven years.
Our goal is to show you how you can protect yourself when giving to military or veteran charities, and ensure that your intended recipients receive the bulk of your gift.
How to Verify a Military or Veteran Charity is Real
Anyone can make something look good on paper or on the Internet. All you need is an official looking logo and a name that elicits trust. But if you are giving someone money, it’s your duty to know where your money is going. Even if a charity claims to give money to military families or veterans, they may put much more than they give into their own pockets. Here are some ways you can verify a military charity is legitimate before you give them any of your hard earned money.
Are they registered with the state and federal government? All legitimate charities should be registered with the state and federal government. Use a search engine to look for “your state + charity list“. That link will take you to Illinois, where I live. Just change the state to your state and verify the charity is listed with your state attorney general’s office, or other regulatory office (each state has different requirements).
Charities should also be listed as a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with the government. By law, they must meet certain requirements to be listed as a charity with the IRS.
How much of their money goes to overhead? How much money goes to the mission goal? Legitimate charities aren’t afraid to open their books to the public. They understand that if they are running a true charity, the vast majority of their income will go right out the door to support their cause. There are several third party websites which monitor charities and give them a score based on how much money they spend on their mission compared to how much goes to things like overhead, fundraising, and employees. Here are a few sites to check before ever sending any money to a charity:
When researching charities on the above sites, be sure to look for a charity rating and see if there is information on how the funds are used. Click here to continue reading.