Beware of Charity Scams

Livestream fundraising has raised millions of dollars to support a wide range of causes, from refugee relief to addressing childhood hunger. Unfortunately, a minority of bad actors have abused the goodwill of gaming communities. As a result, many creators and their viewers are rightfully hesitant to participate in fundraising events.

Charity fundraisers can still do a lot of good for the world, so here’s a guide to making sure your intentions of doing good actually reach the people you want to help.

Follow these best practices to avoid falling prey to a charity scam:

1. Donations should be handled by official or reputable payment processors – not middlemen.

When making a donation, check to see how the funds are handled. The best fundraisers will point users directly to the charity’s homepage for donations or use a vetted donation processor like Tiltify. Creators should never take donations with their personal accounts to be donated later.

Note: There are other payment processors with the credibility of Tiltify, but Tiltify is the most popular tool in livestream fundraising, and it’s the tool all of our charity clients use and trust.

2. Connect directly with the charity if you have concerns about a fundraiser.

If an agency like ours reaches out to you, inviting you to fundraise for a nonprofit, that agency should have no issue connecting you (at your request) to a representative of the nonprofit to verify that the event is official and sanctioned by the charity. Double-check the domain name on the charity contact’s email, and confirm that the individual is on LinkedIn associated with the charity if you still have doubts.

Remember, anyone can volunteer to fundraise, so not every fundraiser will be officially organized by the charity that benefits. In those scenarios, return to suggestion 1.

3. Research the charity.

In the United States alone, nearly 2 million organizations are registered as 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organizations, so just because you haven’t heard of an organization doesn’t mean they aren’t having a real impact for their chosen cause.

Sites like Charity Navigator and Give.org can provide a high-level view of an organization’s reputation and impact, but you should also dig into the charity itself and look at impact reports as well their current initiatives. At the same time, be realistic about the extent of your own expertise in a space. 

For example, No Kid Hungry can help provide 10 meals for kids for every $1 donated, which at first sounds completely impossible, but if you dig into the way the organization operates and the data they have to collect to make such a claim in the first place, you will learn a lot more about what effectively fighting hunger actually looks like. 

4. Know the difference between volunteer fundraiser and professional fundraiser.

We are not lawyers, so this is not legal advice: Creators should be careful about accepting paid fundraising offers because being paid to fundraise could change your legal and tax obligations. For this reason, all the hosts for our livestream fundraisers are strictly volunteers.

In the United States, paying creators to fundraise is problematic because it could be argued that accepting pay for fundraising – whether or not you disclose it – turns that creator from a volunteer into a professional, an important classification because professional fundraisers are held to a higher level of scrutiny than volunteers and are expected to adhere to specific guidelines.

For example, Carper Creative (Carper Communications LLC) is registered as fundraising counsel in the state of Pennsylvania, a registration that we renew annually, and all of our charity clients are subject to the very strict requirements for legally fundraising and for behaving appropriately as a 501(c)(3).

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