Not a day goes by in South Africa when people are not approached to make a donation to charity, be it on street level or via registered organisations, but how do we choose who to give to?

With so many hands held out and limited resources, how does the average citizen make an informed choice as to the best use of his or her precious ‘donations?’

Not all organisations are legitimate, and unfortunately there are scammers out there. But there are ways to make sure you are giving to transparently run organisations that actually do what they say they do.

COO of social enterprise Relate Bracelets, Neil Robinson says, “Choosing to donate money to charities or social development non-profits is a laudable decision. It’s important to give to organisations that do the most good with their money.

“At Relate Bracelets, for example, we have taken the initiative in the fight against poverty through the sale of awareness bracelets, but while the proceeds of the bracelets benefit more than 50 charities, they also support social enterprisedevelopment and provide earning opportunities for theelderly and young adults who have their whole lives ahead of them and simply need an opportunity.

“If you’re considering a request for a donation to a charity, I would suggest you do a little research before you give,” he says, “by finding out as much as you can about the charity, you can avoid fraudsters who try to take advantage of your generosity.

“Regardless of how charities soliciting for funds reach you – the phone, face-to-face contact, email, the internet (including social networking sites), and mobile devices – I would suggest that you avoid any charity or fundraiser that refuses to provide detailed information about its identity, mission, costs, registration details and how the donation will be used.”

Robinson explains how the proceeds from Relate bracelets are used.

“Relate is 100% not for profit. About a third of the proceeds of each bracelet is donated to a cause of choice. Another third is used in creating earning opportunities andis invested in skills and enterprise development initiatives. The final third pays for materials and running costs.”

Every single Relate bracelet carries a pewter ‘R’ bead as a symbol of the organisation’s commitment to accountability and transparency in all its practices, and a guarantee that the bracelet is 100% not for profit.

Robinson suggests five tips to help you avoid charities that may not be legitimate:

  • If someone knocks on your front door, ask to see their identification. You are under no obligation to let the individual into your house, and he/she is obliged to leave if asked;
  • If the person collecting on behalf of the charity tries to put pressure on you by making you feel guilty or selfish if you do not wish to give them money, then you should avoid them.
  • Never send money, or communicate your credit card or online account details to anyone you do not know and trust;
  • Do not offer your personal, credit card, or online account details over the phone, unless you made the call and the phone number came from a trusted source; and
  • Do not open suspicious or unsolicited e-mails (spam). Rather delete them, and contact your Internet Service Provider (ISP).

This article was first published on the 06 August 2014 by Tums 2 Tots, click here to read the original article.