Authentic or Fake

NGO Common Scams & How To Avoid Being Scammed

Have you come across a social cause organisation (referred to as NGO going forward for ease of reference) supporting an initiative dear to you and wondered whether it is authentic or fake? If so, you aren’t alone. Though no one can deny the instrumental role NGOs have played in uplifting our country, it will be naïve to blindly trust people or organisations asking for money for these social causes.

Unfortunately, India is rampant with fraudsters scamming people under the guise of philanthropy. One Google search will lead you to a plethora of stories chronicling how people were scammed out of their hard-earned money by fake NGOs posing as noble entities.

Therefore, it is in your best interest to be vigilant when you provide funds to support NGOs and their causes. With some level of verification, it is not that difficult to differentiate genuine organizations from others.

In this article, we would like to share a few tips that could help you distinguish between a fake and an authentic NGO by paying heed to some of the commonly identified Red Flags:

1. Being Aggressive in their Approach

Most trusted NGOs in India lay heavy emphasis on building strong relationships with the communities they’ve pledged to serve. Thus, a good NGO focused on making a lasting social impact will ensure a greater degree of collaboration – both with the beneficiaries and the donors.

Thus, organisations that approach you with aggressive salesmen-like tactics giving very limited time for providing funds and in-turn making hasty decisions, may not be your best bet. Be also aware of high-octane sales pitches and unsolicited phone calls without a background check.

2. No Transparency

Transparency is a significant quality of a trustworthy NGO. An authentic NGO will be willing to share all relevant information about the initiatives they are spearheading as well as basic legal documentations and financial records. They’ll also provide you with evidence on how they measure the social impact their presence has made and their plans for the near future.

3. Making Lofty Promises

No organisation whether a non-profit or for-profit is perfect. This applies to NGOs as well. Beware of organizations that guarantee extraordinary results. Most fake NGOs are run by con artists who know how to manipulate their targets emotionally, making promises and unrealistic claims without any backing.

Remember – Most social issues are complex and cannot be resolved overnight. Their full impact may even take years after the donation is made.

Things You Can Do to Find Reputable NGOs

Now that you know what red flags to be cautious about, allow us to share a few tips that could help you find an NGO worth trusting.

1. Using a Reliable Platform for Online Donations

Technology has changed how we make our donations. There are a plethora of online donation platforms out there that make it convenient to support an NGO. A reliable platform takes care of vetting an NGO on your behalf.

That said, you might also encounter online donation platforms that are fake. To ensure you are choosing the right platform for donations, we suggest you do the following:

  • Go for well-established platforms with a lot of experience and goodwill to their name. A few reliable platforms that we can name include Let it Count, Milaap, Give India, etc.
  • Always verify payment security details before you enter your card details. Make sure the website features an ‘HTTPS’ sign in its URL.
  • Do not provide any online platform with your detailed personal information.

2. Researching an NGO

There are a few parameters that you should research an NGO against. Start by verifying the NGO’s registration status and other legal documents. Then, go through user reviews and verify their track record by referring to projects they’ve spearheaded. Authentic organizations are transparent about their work so you shouldn’t have any trouble unearthing this information, even simply from their website. Most even have their annual reports published on their websites that will give you an idea of the kind of work progress they make year on year.

3. Contact NGOs Directly

We always recommend getting in touch with NGOs directly. Reach out to them by phone or by visiting their headquarters. Attend events hosted by them. Engaging with the people behind an NGO will provide you with proper insight into their functioning and also help build trust. Often, even genuine sounding organisations, are often known to be inactive/non-functional for a number of years, once contacted directly.

4. Avoid Cash Donations

When you fundraise for NGOs, you either have the option to pay online or by cash. However, if an NGO is only requesting cash-based transactions, then you’ll need to proceed with caution.

Online payments through a secure gateway ensure a higher level of privacy and security. Donations can also be traced via online transactions.

5. Registrations on Websites & Portals

Most of the authentic organisations today are listed on the government NGO & CSR databases/portals e.g. on NGO Darpan. With the intensive mandate of compliances that the government imposes on non-profit organisations, it is not difficult to get NGO details on authenticity from multiple reliable online sources.


While the world is filled with good organisations that want to make a lasting, positive change in society, there are some that’ll take advantage of your inherent kindness. It is imperative that you stay informed, only use reputable online donation platforms, and support well-recognized NGOs preferably with a report on Due Diligence.

India’s NGO landscape isn’t as unstructured as it used to be just a decade ago. It is very simple to find an NGO you can trust today. All you need to do is steer clear of the red flags we’ve mentioned above and adhere to the tips we’ve shared.

If you are in no mood for the whole identification, research and due diligence process yourself, but you do want to support causes that are making a real lasting impact – then you can simply support causes through our platform – Let It Count. Trusted by many individuals and corporates across India, we can help connect you with some of the most trusted NGOs making a positive impact in ways unimaginable to us.

Visit our site to learn more