top of page

Beware Nonprofit Scams

Last week I posted about nonprofit security issues. Click HERE for that article.

This week, I’m focusing on a recent local nonprofit scam and how to stay diligent. Several nonprofits have shared their experiences with a similar-sounding scam and the red flags that alerted them to the suspicious behavior.

Your nonprofit gets an email from a prospective donor who wishes to make a donation to your organization. In one example, the name is “Joshua Harrington” from Heartland Restaurant Group, LLC with an out-of-state address. “Joshua” promises a $2,000 donation in his emails. Next, the check is sent by USPS with signature confirmation of delivery.

There are more emails and even text messages urging the confirmation of the donation and specific instructions on how to notify “Joshua” that the check has been deposited.

Next, the emails show concern that the wrong amount was sent. In this example, “Joshua’s” wife was upset that the wrong amount was sent. Could your nonprofit promptly send him a refund.

Fortunately, the scam broke down at this point and the nonprofit never issued a refund. The check bounced and the bank let the nonprofit know that the check was fraudulent.

Red flags:

  • Irregular or odd language in the emails

  • An unknown donor wishing to donate a large amount without meeting (if you’re not Mackenzie Scott)

  • Insistence to confirm delivery of the check and that it has been deposited with specific instructions

  • Urgency around returning the extra amount

Scammers can grab emails and other contact information from your website to conduct these scams. If your nonprofit has a larger staff, each handling different parts of development and gift processing, then this scam could take hold. Be sure to let the entire staff know about this particular scam and never issue a refund without documenting an actual gift was made.


Michelle Crim, CFRE

Dynamic Development Strategies can help. We offer coaching, grant writing, and fundraising services for our nonprofit clients. We specialize in small to mid-size organizations because we understand your challenges. Please contact us for more information.

25 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page