Michelle Maratto

Vice President, Cyber Advisory

The holiday season is a time of generosity and compassion, with many individuals and organizations reaching out for support from donors. While we are in the spirit of giving, it's essential that your donations are made securely to ensure a meaningful impact.

During giving season, nonprofit organizations devote even more effort than usual to engage donors, and for good reason:

  • 30% of annual giving occurs in December1
  • 10% of annual giving occurs in the last three days of the year2
  • $3.1 billion was donated for Giving Tuesday in November 20223

With that, it is important to be cyber smart. Scams and fraud unfortunately persist even during this charitable time of year, so it is important research thoroughly before giving to avoid falling victim. Here's a guide to help you give securely and protect your dollars this season.

You better watch out – verify to whom and how you are giving

Before making any donations, research and choose reputable charities with a proven track record of transparency and effectiveness. There are great independent resources where you can verify nonprofits, including Charity Navigator. It can provide valuable insights into the legitimacy and efficiency of various organizations.

When donating to a charity or nonprofit, make sure the website is legitimate. Scammers often use a common tactic of making a look-alike website that can be a near exact copy of the charity or nonprofit's site. These are typically shared via social media and email.

  • If a social media post or email entices you to give, pause and research that organization via other means.
  • Double-check that the website uses encryption (look for "https://" in the URL) to protect your financial details.

It’s also worth noting that crowdfunding platforms, which are often used for fundraising, can also be susceptible to fraud. Verify the legitimacy of the campaign and ensure it is organized by someone associated with a trustworthy entity.

Be careful how you choose to send money

Some methods of submitting donations are safer than others. Here are some rules of thumb:

  • When donating, do not send cash or gift cards and take extra precaution cautious when using 3rd party payment apps. Once cash is given it can be difficult to recover in a case of fraud. Using a credit card rather than a debit card can offer better protection.
  • With the rise of check washing, avoid writing checks. Scammers steal checks and change the payee names and dollar amounts on checks before depositing. If checks are your preferred payment method, find out from your financial institution if you can send your check digitally.
  • Keep a record of all donations and review your statements closely to make sure you’re only charged the amount you agreed to donate – and that you’re not signed up to make a recurring donation.

Protect your digital footprint

Finally, keep the safety of your data top-of-mind when giving by exercising caution when providing personal information.

  • While charities need some information, they do not need your full social security number or excessive personal details. Only share the necessary information to complete the donation securely.
  • Ignore unsolicited requests. Be wary of emails and phone calls asking for donations, especially from organizations unfamiliar to you.
  • Don’t let anyone rush you into making a donation. Scammers rush you so there’s no time to research their claims or think it through.
  • If possible, do not make these transactions on public Wi-Fi , as you are exposing yourself and your information to risk. If you need to use public Wi-Fi, consider using a Virtual Private Network (VPN).

By following these guidelines, this can help you ensure that your holiday generosity has a positive and secure impact. Remember, giving should be a joyous experience – and with a bit of caution, you can make a difference in a way that is both meaningful and safe.

We can help

J.P. Morgan is committed to providing safe, resilient services to our clients and partners within an ever-evolving threat landscape. If you believe you may have been a victim of cyber scam or experience fraud, contact your J.P. Morgan advisor immediately.



Donor Box, “14 Steps to the Perfect End-of-Year Giving Campaign.” (November 2023).




Giving Tuesday, “Millions Worldwide Celebrate GivingTuesday 2022 with Acts of Generosity & Giving.” (November 2022).

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