How to avoid being scammed when you want to donate to a charity With the devastation in Turkey and Syria mounting, people around the world are sending financial donations to the region. But how can you identify the best and more reputable charities?

How to avoid being scammed when you want to donate to a charity

How to avoid being scammed when you want to donate to a charity

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With the devastation in Turkey and Syria mounting, people around the world are sending financial donations to the region. But how can you identify the best and more reputable charities?

A man prays in front of a collapsed building in Hatay, Turkey. Burak Kara/Getty Images hide caption

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Burak Kara/Getty Images

A man prays in front of a collapsed building in Hatay, Turkey.

Burak Kara/Getty Images

LEILA FADEL, HOST:

As we just heard, this earthquake and the hundreds of aftershocks in Turkey and Syria spells out a monumental and urgent need for help, and a lot of people are looking for ways to get their money to the right places quickly. Charity Navigator, a nonprofit that rates charities, says they're seeing it online.

MICHAEL THATCHER: We're seeing double the traffic we've been seeing over the last couple of weeks.

STEVE INSKEEP, HOST:

Michael Thatcher is CEO of Charity Navigator and says, when deciding where to donate, start by figuring out how you want to help.

THATCHER: Think about - do I want to engage in the immediate - clearing the rubble? Is it focused on children? And so what organizations are affecting really specific things you want to address and then find an organization that's doing that.

FADEL: And once you find a charity you want to support, Thatcher says do some research to avoid scams.

THATCHER: Go to a site like Charity Navigator, look up the organization and see if the organization that you're being asked to give to actually exists in our database. If it's a legal 501(c)(3) nonprofit, it'll be in our database. We have 1.6 million organizations there, and we won't let you give to a fake charity.

INSKEEP: If somebody should reach out to you for a donation...

THATCHER: Ask them for their employee identification number. It's a little bit like a Social Security number for the charity. If they can't give you that number, chances are you've got someone who really doesn't know anything about the organization, or they're not real.

FADEL: You should also look out for aggressive solicitations.

THATCHER: So a red flag is being pushed and coerced into giving when you're not quite ready to do so.

INSKEEP: Yeah, take your time. Now, there's a long list of organizations responding - for real - to the emergency in Turkey and Syria.

THATCHER: This spans from Save the Children, CARE, UNICEF USA, Doctors Without Borders, Project Hope, Direct Relief, the Islamic Relief USA.

FADEL: And then there are the local organizations in Turkey and Syria. And if you want to do more than donate, Thatcher says...

THATCHER: Look for volunteering opportunities that the charity is publishing.

FADEL: The need is urgent now. But with entire neighborhoods gone, that need won't disappear when the story's out of the headlines.

THATCHER: The media cycle will fade on this fairly quickly, but the cleanup is going to go on for a long time.

INSKEEP: Oh, yeah. That reminds me of a thing that people say in ordinary life - it's good to go to the funeral, but good to visit people long after the funeral is over.

One way to keep helping, Thatcher says, is setting up a recurring gift once you find an organization that you do want to support.

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