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Simple ways to check where your charity donations are going

The arrest of a local activist raises the reminder of donation fraud. Here are some quick tips that will help you make sure your money gets to who needs it most.

TOLEDO, Ohio — Right now, with many in need, many organizations are working to gather donations to provide vital assistance.

The arrest of local activist Sir Maejor Page for charges of fraud related to the misappropriation of funds meant to support the Black Lives Matter movement serves a reminder to always exercise caution when donating.

The most important thing you can do is research before you donate. 

Think of it as any large purchase. Especially now, when many places will have a program like Cash App or Venmo as an alternate way to give.

"You just have to be certain. If you use a credit card, and something that's vetted pretty carefully, that can protect you a little bit. Never ever give cash outright," Wendy Peastrue said.

Peastrue is the CEO and President of United Way of Greater Toledo. The United Way works with dozens of non-profits that first have to prove where their money goes.

"The organizations are required to keep it up to date, keep it on file, we investigate it," Peastrue said.

It's also important to use your instincts. 

Katybeth Davis, a Black Lives Matter activist in Monroe, decided not to associate with Sir Maejor Page. Davis got a bad feeling when Page tried to work with her.

"Anybody that I interact with or I'm going to associate my name with, I always research who they are and what they're about," Davis said.

Peastrue says go to the organization's website and look for a form called a 990. It will tell you where any legitimate charity's money is going. 

You can also go to the Charity Navigator website, which tracks and rates that information, or even dig around on the IRS website. 

And if you're looking to start an organization, work with people who know how to get you on the right track.

"If you want to start a non-profit, you want to do it by the book, do it very carefully. They will help you with that," Peastrue said.

RELATED: FBI arrests Sir Maejor Page on charges of wire fraud, money laundering

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