Tip 1 – First check the group’s identity

Before you donate to any group, make sure it’s an IRS-recognized charity or nonprofit.

Not every group that looks, sounds or feels like a charity is truly a charity. Scam “charities” often adopt names similar to legitimate charities, siphoning off dollars needed for good works. Scam “charities” do double damage – they steal from you, and they steal from those you want to help.

The fastest way to check a group’s identity is to get and check the group’s EIN (employer identification number). An EIN is typically a nine-digit number, shown like 12-3456789.

  • Every nonprofit has an EIN, which it obtains by applying to the IRS.
  • EINs are like charity license plate numbers, intended to be public unlike individual Social Security Numbers.
Charity EIN plate

Even among IRS-recognized nonprofits, organization names can be confusingly similar. You might be donating to a charity, but it might not be the one you intended.

  • We searched CharityCheck101.org for “habitat for humanity” and found 1,228 nonprofits in January 2022.
  • Searched for “boy” and found 4,790, while and “girl” produced 6,233.
  • Then we searched for “veteran” and found 17,275!

But no two charities have the same EIN. EINs are the key to checking charity identity.

Use CharityCheck101.org to check any group asking you to donate. If it’s not in the CharityCheck directory (or a church or governmental unit), it’s NOT a charity or nonprofit.





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