Last night I received an email that helped me separate the difference between the two.
A legitimate organization will issue a thank you letter. In this case, they even identify the family fund my donation has been applied to.
It will contain specific information as to where I may contact them if I have any questions.
And it will contain their tax ID as well as state they are a registered 501 c 3 charity. If you would like more information regarding non profit status and ways to identify a legitimate organization, clink this link on Ellen's blog.
In my opinion, it's all about transparency. Without crystal clear disclosure, there is little to trust. And trust is so important. Unfortunately, one thoughtless person can create this mistrust. Please do not let it deter you from seeking out the organizations who are working so hard to gain your trust.