Avoid being scammed for a good cause

By Staff Writer
With today being Nelson Mandela Day, everyone’s heart is in the right place to give 67 minutes of their time to a worthy cause. Contributing money or time to a charity organisation could be a good option but how sure are you that the charity is legitimate and your money is going to the right place?
 
What do charities have to do/subscribe to, to be legitimate?
 
Nathalie Tedder, business development manager at Gold Peer Education Development Agency, said ideally it should be registered, preferably as a non-profit organisation (NPO). If the organisation is a not for profit company then it should be registered as a non-profit company (NPC) and a public benefit organisation.

A non-profit company is a company incorporated as non-profit entity while non-profit organisation is a wider concept and could be any entity (including a company).
 
“Ideally it should also have some form of an annual audit done by an external audit firm. This is not a legal/statutory requirement but it is a good way to know that the organisation you are giving money to is keeping financial records,” said Tedder.
 
What basic questions should you ask a charity before donating money?
  
Before donating your hard earned cash to a charity, Tedder advised that you find out if they have a board of members that is giving input to the affairs of the non-government -organisation (NGO), which should minimise the risk of fraud.
 
“If you are planning to give a sizeable donation then it is worth taking the time to check their website, meet them, ask to see their annual report and annual financial statements,” said Tedder.   
 
How can you check the validity of an organisation? 
 
To check if a charity organisation is legitimate, go online to the Department of Social Development to access an up to date list of registered NPO’s.
 
“People also need to watch out for is the type of scam where an individual goes from door to door with a photocopied piece of paper ‘collecting’ for an orphanage or school,” said Tedder.
 
So should you still donate money to charity?
 
Despite the scams out there, it should still not stop you from giving back on an important day like Nelson Mandela’s birthday.
 
“Giving is good for you. It is in giving that we all receive. We are all busy and yet most of us would like to give back, even if it is just a small amount that we can afford. 
 
My advice would be to use Nelson Mandela Day as an opportunity to find an NGO that resonates with you, that fits into what you feel is important.

Do your research and make a decision to set up a monthly direct debit (even if it is only for R30). By supporting an NGO on a regular basis you also get the opportunity to walk a road with them, to form a relationship and be a part of their journey,” said Tedder.

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