Donations are a vital source of funding for worthy causes and charities. As a donor, it's important to be well informed so you can feel confident about where your money is going.
Unfortunately, some scammers may be pretending to raise funds on behalf of a charity, but are actually stealing your money. Learn how to protect yourself from potential donation scams.
On this page
- Be an informed donor
- Recognizing potential donation and charity scams
- Reporting donation and charity scams
Be an informed donor
Before making any charitable donation:
- gather as much information as possible about the organization
- visit their website for key information such as annual reports, contact information, address, hours of operation, list of board members, etc.
- find out how much of your donation will go to charitable activity and how much of it will be used to cover overhead costs (staff salary, office rentals, etc.)
- check the Canada Revenue Agency’s List of charities and certain other qualified donees to confirm whether a Canadian charity or organization is registered and in good standing
- Only Canadian registered charities or other qualified recipients may issue official donation receipts that qualify for charitable tax credits.
Canadian charities are regulated at the provincial and territorial level. For more information, visit the CRA's Provincial and territorial government information for charities web page.
For more information on making donations, please visit CRA's Frequently Asked Questions web page.
Recognizing potential donation and charity scams
Be wary of:
- High-pressure solicitors who want you to contribute immediately
- Remember that you are entitled to take as much time as you need to make your decision and to say "no" if you wish.
- Someone who contacts you to thank you for a pledge you do not remember making
- Scammers want to lure you into believing that your previous donation made a difference, when, in fact, you never gave money to the organization.
- Charities that try to encourage you to donate by promising a prize or an entry in a sweepstake if you do so.
- Branding that is similar to that of well-known, reputable charities
- Scammers will use names, wording, logos and graphics to trick you into believing you are giving to an established charity.
- Requests to send cash, a money order, a wire transfer, a gift card, or offers to send a courier to collect your money instead of paying by cheque or credit card
- If you are paying by cheque, remember to write cheques to the charity, not to an individual. If you are making donations online, always make sure that payments are secure.
Never give out personal information (such as your credit card number or banking information) to a person or organization you do not know.
Reporting donation and charity scams
If you are the victim of a charitable donations fraud, contact the Canadian Anti-fraud Call Centre.