Upgrade your browser to improve your experience. See recommended browsers

Avoiding fraudulent charities

With so many charities to choose from, sometimes it's hard to know which to support, or even which ones to avoid.

Operation Donate with Honor

The Federal Trade Commission, along with law enforcement officials and charity regulators from 70 offices in every state, the District of Columbia, American Samoa, Guam and Puerto Rico, announced more than 100 actions and a consumer education initiative in “Operation Donate with Honor,” a crackdown on fraudulent charities that con consumers by falsely promising their donations will help veterans and service members.

Where to find more information

Read the article to be sure the charity you’re supporting is legitimate.

Charity Navigator Advisory System

Charity Navigator also published a list called the CN Advisory System to help donors make informed giving decisions by providing them with information about particular charities. Under this system, charities are categorized into 1 of 3 designations: Low Concern, Moderate Concern and High Concern.

These designations are based on the alleged ethical or legal issue the organization is facing. Charity Navigator provides additional context as to the nature and extent of the concern, and objectively groups similar items of concern together to make it easier for donors to make informed decisions about charities on the CN Advisory list.

Where to find more information

Review the CN Advisory System to help make informed giving decisions about particular charities—such as alleged or confirmed illegal activity or ethical breaches—that may influence your decision to donate.

How Fidelity Charitable reviews grants

Our policy requires the review of all grant recommendations to ensure that they will be used exclusively for proper charitable purposes. Our review includes:

  • Confirmation that the proposed grantee is an IRS-qualified public charity, and
  • Verification that grants will be used for charitable purposes, and will not confer a more-than-incidental benefit upon the donor or third parties.

Fidelity Charitable reserves the right to perform additional due diligence and to decline to make a recommended grant to a charitable organization, including where the grant may be used for improper purposes.

  • Fidelity Charitable makes grants only for charitable purposes.
  • As part of its donor-advised fund program, Fidelity Charitable has systems in place to monitor public records (e.g., news reports) involving the philanthropic sector to identify issues that could affect a potential grantee’s ability to use our grants for charitable purposes.
  • Fidelity Charitable considers such information in the event that a grant is recommended to the involved charitable organization, and may at any time decline to make a recommended grant, and may also require additional information from a potential grantee before considering a grant recommendation to the organization.
  • For example, before considering whether to make a recommended grant, Fidelity Charitable may require a written response to news reports of lapses in financial controls or other issues that could affect the grantee’s ability to use our grants for charitable purposes.

Where to find more information

Learn more about how to evaluate a charity by understanding their mission, board and finances—and find the right charity for you to support.

Ready to get started?

Establishing your Giving Account is easy and only takes 5 minutes.

All you need is your Social Security number and, when you're ready, a $5,000 minimum donation.

Open a Giving Account

Or call us at 1-800-262-6039