By CBS13 Staff

OAKLAND (CBS13) — With the crisis in Ukraine, there may be a rise in charities asking for donations to help those in need. However, California Attorney General Bonta warns people to do their due diligence before donating to make sure these charities are reputable.

“The invasion of Ukraine is heartbreaking and unacceptable. I know that Californians, many with families and loved ones in the country, stand in solidarity with Ukraine and will be looking for any way to help its people,” said Attorney General Bonta. “However, before Californians do this, I urge them to take the necessary steps to research these charities so their contributions can go to legitimate causes. As Californians do their part to give to those in need in Ukraine, we will do our part to protect the integrity of those donations from deceptive solicitations. If you believe that a charity or fundraiser has acted in bad faith, please report it immediately at oag.ca.gov/charities/complaints.”

Bonta’s staff recommends the following tips to ensure the reputability of a charity before donating:

  • Check the Registration Status (It should be registered, here)
  • Give to Organizations You Trust (Do your research before giving.)
  • Be Wary of Social Network Fundraising (Find out what percentage is going to the charity.)
  • Don’t Be Pressured by Telemarketers (Ask questions before donating.)
  • Watch Out for Similar-Sounding Names, Web Addresses, and Other Deceptive Tactics (Fraudulent organizations can employ names that seem suspiciously similar to well-known philanthropic organizations.)
  • Understand the Difference Between “Tax-Exempt” and “Tax-Deductible” (A “Tax ID Number” or a receipt that reads “keep this receipt for your records” does not mean the organization is a charity, tax-exempt, or that your donation is tax-deductible.)
  • Consider the Costs of Gifts and Merchandise (Some charities may sell products on the internet and claim that “100% of the proceeds” would go to charity. However, this does not guarantee that 100% of the proceeds from the sale of the item will go to charity, and the cost of the item can significantly lower the value of your donation.)
  • Protect Your Identity (Be careful about credit card and social security number information and make sure to review the privacy policy to see who your information is being given to.)

Bonta’s staff emphasizes that charities, even if well-intentioned, may not have the resources to help if formed overnight and thus it is better to donate to well-established charities that have mechanisms in place to help.