The folks over at Applegeeks have drawn attention to the plight of a long-time forum member who’s asked for a few small donations to help cover some of her mother’s expenses while she’s recovering from some medical problems.
I definitely understand that, particularly these days, many folks are unwilling to donate to folks they don’t know. There are good reasons for that; many people have abused the anonymity of the internet to claim hardship and take donations under false pretenses. I feel reasonably good linking to the above cause because the fine folks over at Applegeeks, who are much more familiar with this person than I am, are comfortable donating (they’re actually going to donate the proceeds from an auction of a piece of artwork).
However, if for whatever reason you’re skeptical (and this applies to any request for donations you ever see), may I suggest that there are alternatives to simply giving up on donating to worthwhile causes?
- Donate just $1. That way, if it does turn out to be a scam, you don’t have to feel like you got particularly ripped off–but for the person who needs it, those $1 donations add up.
- Instead of donating, go volunteer an afternoon of your time to a local charity. This is a particularly good thing to do if you don’t have the money to donate as well. It might not directly help the person in need, but if everyone did this every time they saw a call for donations, then many more of the people out there you don’t hear about might get help.
- Donate to a verifiably legitimate cause that helps people in similar plights. For example, donate to a food shelf where folks on low incomes can get groceries. Some utility companies have funds you can donate to in order to help pay the utility bills of low-income families. Donate to a medical charity that’s funding research into a similar illness.
It’s so tempting, with all of the abhorrent charity fraud out there, to simply stop donating to worthy causes. Instead, find a way to donate that allows you to donate to something you know is worthwhile, or that won’t leave you feeling ripped off if it turns out to be a scam.