7 Char­ac­ter­is­tics of dubi­ous dona­tion organizations

Most of the approx­i­mate­ly 20,000 orga­ni­za­tions col­lect­ing dona­tions in Ger­many do out­stand­ing work and han­dle the mon­ey entrust­ed to them with care. But of course there are also black sheep that you can recog­nise by this behaviour:

1. they are put under pressure.

You can recog­nise dubi­ous organ­i­sa­tions by the fact that they do not give you time to think or set an ulti­ma­tum. The adver­tis­ing mate­r­i­al is strong­ly emo­tion­al (suf­fer­ing chil­dren with sad eyes) and appeals above all to your guilty conscience.

Dona­tions should always be made vol­un­tar­i­ly and out of your own moti­va­tion. A good deci­sion is based on suf­fi­cient infor­ma­tion. You donate not only with your heart, but also with your mind.

2. the organ­i­sa­tion is intrusive.

Dubi­ous organ­i­sa­tions like to use direct con­fronta­tion to embar­rass donors. Care should be tak­en if you receive annoy­ing phone calls or some­one rings the doorbell.

Per­son­al con­ver­sa­tions are of course always a good way to get to know an organ­i­sa­tion bet­ter. Seri­ous organ­i­sa­tions can be recog­nised by the fact that you are first sent infor­ma­tion mate­r­i­al and that the dis­tance is main­tained through­out the whole process.

In addi­tion, you will receive suf­fi­cient infor­ma­tion about which goals and tar­get groups the project wants to reach, how it intends to achieve its goals and how suc­cess­ful it has been so far (evi­dence of effectiveness!).

3. you are made false promis­es.

You should become sus­pi­cious if an organ­i­sa­tion promis­es the moon and pur­sues exag­ger­at­ed, unre­al­is­tic goals.

Pay atten­tion to whether the goals of the organ­i­sa­tion are com­pre­hen­si­ble and real­is­tic. You can rec­og­nize this by, among oth­er things, whether the orga­ni­za­tion pro­vides detailed infor­ma­tion about indi­vid­ual stages and names con­crete activ­i­ties with which these goals are to be achieved.

4. They hold a col­lec­tion box under your nose.

Dona­tion cans (espe­cial­ly those that are not sealed) and col­lec­tors who do not have an offi­cial per­mit or a col­lec­tion card can be a sign of dubi­ous meshes.

In most fed­er­al states, a col­lec­tion card is unfor­tu­nate­ly not oblig­a­tory. If you are unsure of who you are deal­ing with, ask for a trans­fer form and find out about the organ­i­sa­tion at home. This also has the advan­tage that you can deduct the dona­tion from your taxes.


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5. you should sign a sup­port­ing membership.

From the prin­ci­ple a good thing, vig­i­lance is espe­cial­ly impor­tant with sus­tain­ing mem­ber­ships. Dubi­ous organ­i­sa­tions like to hide unpleas­ant sur­pris­es in the small print: increas­ing month­ly fees, com­pli­cat­ed ter­mi­na­tion, busi­ness abroad.

Spon­sor­ing mem­ber­ships are not sub­ject to the Doorstep Can­cel­la­tion Act. This means that you enter into a legal­ly bind­ing com­mit­ment, which you can only ter­mi­nate again by giv­ing writ­ten notice. Because you are oblig­at­ed for months and years, you should in such cas­es be par­tic­u­lar­ly crit­i­cal of who you are actu­al­ly supporting.

6. you receive false or insuf­fi­cient information.

There is no inde­pen­dent infor­ma­tion about the organ­i­sa­tion, the web­site lacks an imprint and con­tact per­sons are not even named? These are clear signs of a dubi­ous organization.

Ide­al­ly, infor­ma­tion on the use of the dona­tions as well as on the work­ing meth­ods and struc­ture of the organ­i­sa­tion is freely acces­si­ble. Seri­ous organ­i­sa­tions answer ques­tions com­pre­hen­sive­ly and promptly.

7. the web­site makes a dubi­ous impression.

Spe­cial cau­tion also applies to online dona­tions. Fraud­sters like to pre­tend to be employ­ees of a well-known dona­tion organ­i­sa­tion or to report in the course of a nat­ur­al dis­as­ter. If you are asked by e‑mail to give con­tact and account details or if you are redi­rect­ed to dubi­ous web­sites, a healthy dose of mis­trust is advisable.

Find out how long the organ­i­sa­tion has been active and whether there are any media reports. Check the fees and com­mis­sions for dona­tions via SMS and dona­tion portals.

Look for the seal when donating

If you real­ly want to be sure that your dona­tion is safe, make sure that the orga­ni­za­tion has under­gone inde­pen­dent third-par­ty ver­i­fi­ca­tion. Infor­ma­tion is pro­vid­ed, for exam­ple, by the dona­tion seal of the Ger­man Cen­tral Insti­tute for Social Issues (DZI) and the effect seal of PHINEO.

Test­ed and award­ed projects that work trans­par­ent­ly and have a high social impact can be found in our overview of good and test­ed dona­tion projects.