Charity DNA – Charities Should Show Their EINS

Overview

  • EIN checking is more precise than DNA testing.
  • While charity names can be confusingly similar, no two charities have the same EIN (employer identification number).
  • Using an EIN is the quickest path to successful charity research.
  • Using an EIN is quickest way to avoid “charity” scams.

FAQ #1: Why should a charity prominently show its EIN?

  • To help donors protect themselves.
  • To help donors get the results they want.
  • To help law enforcement combat “charity” scams.
  • EINs are the key to finding a particular charity.
  • While charity names can be similar, no two charities have the same EIN. EIN checking is more precise than DNA testing.
  • Charity names can be confusingly similar. For example, we entered “american cancer” as the organization name in the CharityCheck101.org directory search and got 129 results. We narrowed the name search to “american cancer society” and got 40 results. We entered “habitat for humanity” and got 1,228 results. We entered “veteran” and got 17,275 results!
  • Names can be used to mislead. Scam “charities” often adopt names confusingly similar to legitimate charities, siphoning off dollars needed for good works.
Charity DNA

 

FAQ #2: What’s an EIN?

Every charity has its own unique federal employer identification number (EIN), which it obtains by applying to the IRS. An EIN is typically a nine-digit number, shown like 12-3456789. A few charities have EINs with eight or fewer digits (normally shown with a leading zero like 01-2345678).

EIN License Plate

FAQ #3: Why would a donor care?

  • Using an EIN is the quickest path to successful charity research.
  • Using an EIN is the quickest way to avoid “charity” scams.
  • Using an EIN is a solid way to avoid confusion among legitimate charities.
  • Using an EIN helps in checking for a charity’s current address.
  • Using an EIN helps document charitable deductions at tax time.

FAQ #4: How can a donor use an EIN in charity research?

FAQ #5: You’re saying charity EINs are public information?

Yes. Charity EINs are a key part of the public disclosure system mandated by the Internal Revenue Code. They’re available on the IRS website for anyone to find. And they’re the pathway to finding charity information filed with the IRS and available through CharityCheck101.orgGuideStar.org and elsewhere. The system’s already in place, let’s use it!

FAQ #6: Could showing charity EINs help “charity” scammers?

No, it will hurt them. If all charity fundraisers show their EINs, “charity” scammers will also have to show EINs. Potential donors will know to look for the EIN, and ask for it when contacted for donations.

  • If a scammer doesn’t show an EIN, it will be immediately suspect to potential donors.
  • If a scammer uses its own EIN, potential donors can quickly check it out through CharityCheck101.orgGuideStar.org, or Google.
  • If a scammer uses the EIN of a legitimate charity, it will easily get caught and will have given law enforcement clear proof of fraud.

FAQ #7: Where should a charity prominently show its EIN?

Show the EIN prominently –

  • On every piece of mail sent seeking a donation or other funding.
  • On every donation acknowledgement.
  • On the “About Us” page of the website and in the footer of every page.

No foundation would give a charity a grant unless the charity provided its EIN first.

Why should individual and family donors, who provide more than 80% of charity donations, have to waste time searching for charity EINs?