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    Don’t Ask for Donation Refunds (Unless You Must)

    Learn how to avoid having to ask for a refund from a charity and how to go about asking if you must.

    Why You Should Avoid Asking for a Donation Refund 


    Charities work hard to serve their communities with limited funds. Each donation received is a piece of the constantly evolving puzzle that charities are working to solve. If you find yourself regretting a donation, you may be inclined to ask for — or to take back — a gift that you made. Taking your donation back from a charity that may have already spent the gift to advance its mission makes its difficult and essential work that much harder. 



    How to Avoid Asking for a Donation Refund 


    Often, donation refunds are requested due to a mistake on the part of the donor. You can avoid this by doing your research upfront and paying careful attention to the donation process. 



    Vet Before You Give 


    One reason some donors ask for refunds is that they learn after the gift has been made that the charity does not actually align with their goals and values. Vet organizations on Charity Navigator before you give so that you can make your donation with confidence. Don’t make a donation until you are comfortable with the organization you are supporting. This will reduce the likelihood that you feel the need to ask for a refund down the road. 



    Choose Your Donation Options With Care 


    As you fill out a donation form on a charity’s website or in Charity Navigator’s Giving Basket, double-check your responses. If you intend to make a one-time donation, ensure that you have not selected the recurring donation option. Recurring donations are a great way to support a charity, but if your giving budget is sized for a single donation, having the donation repeated monthly or quarterly is an unpleasant, or financially problematic, surprise. 



    Keep an Eye on Your Finances and the Organizations You Support


    If something has gone wrong either with a charity you have supported or with your donation settings, it is best that you know immediately. If a charity is revealed to have problems that you feel are inexcusable or insurmountable, make sure you cut off support immediately to avoid asking for refunds further down the line. If you have accidentally set up a recurring donation, asking for a refund immediately after the donation goes out makes things easier for the charity. If the unplanned recurring donation goes on for months, it may be very hard or even impossible for the charity to issue you a refund. 



    Don’t Punish Charities for Your Mistake 


    If the need for a refund is caused by a mistake on your part, consider restructuring your giving to allow the charity to keep the money if it is at all possible.



    If You Must Ask for a Donation Refund 


    There are some reasons you may need a refund. For example, if you truly cannot afford to go without the money spent on an accidental recurring donation. You may also have reason to lose trust in a charity after your donation has been made. If a scandal breaks shortly after your donation is made, you may want your money to go to charities that you consider more trustworthy. A refund may also be called for if you made a restricted donation for a project that has been canceled. If your donation was specifically earmarked for a canceled project, the charity should contact you to offer a refund. You may also choose to allow the charity to keep your donation for another use. 


    If you must ask for a donation back, try to make your refund as painless as possible. As soon as you know a refund is required, contact the charity directly. A refund will be a gracious gesture from a charity rather than a legal obligation. Avoid resorting to a credit card chargeback, as this will cause the charity to incur additional fees. 


    As a donor, your role is to support the work of charities. Do your best to avoid refunds to maximize the impact of your gifts.