The power of the internet and social media was never more apparent than this week when a documentary video about atrocities committed by a Ugandan warlord was posted on YouTube and quickly went viral with more than 41 million people watching the video. This huge number was assisted by Tweets alerting people to the video by celebrities such as Will Smith, J.K. Rowling, P.Diddy and Justin Bieber. The video done by an American organization known as “Invisible Children” is seeking donations, which the organization says will be used toward education and security programs as well as to support an awareness program. The appeal to our charitable instincts is enormous and that is enough to alert scammers who are also out there ready to appeal for your dollars claiming they are involved with this program or similar programs. You may see solicitations from other organizations with similar names or who appear to be collecting for the same cause, but without doing a bit of checking, you never know whether you are giving to a scammer or a real charity that will effectively use your donation.
Anytime you consider making a charitable donation, you should always first make sure that the charity receiving your donation is a legitimate charity and not a scam. An easy way to do this is to go to the free website www.charitynavigator.org and check out the charity. You will receive much information that will let you know whether indeed the charity is legitimate. However, even if the charity is “legitimate,” it may not be where you wish to donate your money. You may find that the particular charity spends most of its donations on administrative costs and salaries and that little of its donations actually go toward the charitable purpose for which you made your donation. You can also find this information on www.charitynavigator.org as well. By the way, the Invisible Children charity is highly ranked by www.charitynavigator.org.