5 Important Tips for Donating in the Fight Against COVID-19

Please note before you read; although Kenan Foundation is a registered charity (Ministry of Finance Registration #350), we are not an emergency or disaster response organization. We are not requesting any funds for disaster relief or to make medical supply or equipment purchases.

As COVID-19 continues to strangle healthcare systems and inflict a terrible toll on individuals, it has been encouraging to see people, businesses, and civic institutions open their hearts and wallets to help meet the pressing needs of hospitals, healthcare workers, and communities.

The dark side of the rise in giving has been the sudden surge in scammers setting up crowdfunding campaigns and fraudulent charities in order to solicit donations and capitalize on people’s anxiety. Unfortunately, many generous people, who, thankfully, are eager to help as soon as possible, are falling prey to online frauds. These frauds take many forms. Some pretend to raise money for vaccine research while others claim to provide much-needed surgical masks to healthcare workers, money directly to laid-off workers, or health services to a vulnerable individual infected with the virus. The fraudsters are not foolish – they know these problems are real and people desperately need the support of those of us who are lucky enough to be in the position to help.

We at Kenan absolutely hope that those of you who can support the fight against COVID-19 will do so. However, we encourage you to be cautious and perform due diligence before donating to any non-profit or before buying healthcare supplies (such as masks and hand sanitizers) from an unknown business or person on social media. If you are not careful, you may be unknowingly giving your money to a fraudster or competing with hospitals and pharmacies for urgently needed medical supplies.

To protect yourself and your business, we recommend that you take the following steps before donating:

  1. Check the organization’s website and social media pages: Make sure the organization has a history and experience in handling charitable donations and working with the partners they are claiming to help. It is sometimes difficult to tell how well established a charity is based on its website; that’s why it is useful to visit its Facebook or LinkedIn page as well to verify its history.
  2. Be sure to match the donation information in the message with the organization’s website. It is easy for someone to send a message with bank transfer information. Be sure that the transfer instructions are consistent with what is on the website. Charities that can legitimately take donations will usually have multiple, very clear donation links on their website for bank transfer and credit card payment.
  3. Ensure that the organization is a registered with the appropriate agency. In Thailand, this is a two-step process for public charities, requiring approval from two different government agencies. Public charities are also required to prominently display their Ministry of Finance charity license number. Some are also required to have a separate fundraising license in order to legally ask for donations from the public, which must be produced upon request. A complete list of all registered public charitable organizations in Thailand can be found here: https://www.rd.go.th/publish/2644.0.html (page is in Thai, but can be translated).
  4. If a tax deduction is important or necessary for you or your business, be sure that the recipient of your donation is registered to receive charitable donations. Not all non-profits are registered charities or eligible to issue a receipt for tax deduction purposes. Typically, a charity or other entity that can receive tax-deductible donations and issue receipts for this will make it explicit on its website.
  5. Finally, be sure the donation is being used for the stated purpose. Some non-profits have been known to fundraise during times of crisis, but use those funds for its general operations, not specifically for the crisis. While there is absolutely nothing wrong with soliciting funds for general operations, any non-profit should make clear the actual use of the donated funds.

Kenan encourages people and companies seeking to donate to do so directly to recognized, registered charities or organizations that clearly display their registrations, affiliations and if required, license numbers. We also ask that you use good judgment and perform due diligence when responding to a fundraising request. Although support is badly needed at this time, be wary of any organization contacting you through unsolicited e-mails or phone calls. And do not let an organization pressure you into making an immediate decision before you have time to verify the legitimacy of the organization.

Please do continue to donate. Organizations that are on the front line of the COVID-19 response today, and the recovery efforts needed for tomorrow, will most assuredly need your support.

Kenan Asia

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