'GMA' Uncovers Unclaimed Funds for Charities

You might be able to find missing money for your favorite cause.

ByABC News
September 20, 2011, 3:30 PM

Sept. 16, 2011 — -- intro:

If you work for a non-profit organization or volunteer for a charity -- or just care -- you can do an unclaimed property search to see if there is money out there waiting for your favorite cause.

Quite often, there is.

In fact, your odds of finding unclaimed money listed in the name of a non-profit group are probably greater than finding it for yourself, because groups have more ties than individuals do and, thus, more potential for funds to get misplaced.

Click here to read the complete "GMA" unclaimed money guide to see how you can search for unclaimed money that may be waiting for you.

It can happen when somebody wills money to a charity, but the funds are not delivered, as happened in our story about the Wisconsin Humane Society.

Click here and here to go behind-the-scenes at the Wisconsin Humane Society and see how the animals themselves responded to the unclaimed money "GMA" helped find!

Other possibilities: Maybe the charity rented space for an event and never got its security deposit back or, perhaps, a vendor double charged the non-profit by accident and a refund is outstanding.

If you've been unable to donate to your favorite causes in these tricky economic times, finding money for them is the perfect way to contribute!

Use these five pointers to guide your online search to find unclaimed money for your favorite charity.

quicklist: 1title: Unclaimed.org: text: First, search in the state where the charity is based by going to the FREE website www.unclaimed.org and clicking on that state. (IMPORTANT: this is a .ORG website, NOT a .com. If you mistakenly type in .com, you will be taken to a pay site. It is never necessary to pay a fee or a finder to help you find unclaimed money.) Unclaimed.org is run by the National Association of Unclaimed Property Administrators and will link you to each individual state's search site.

quicklist: 2title: MissingMoney.com: text: Next, especially for non-profits that are national in scope, you can do a multi-state search at www.missingmoney.com. At first, you will be prompted to enter the charity's home state but, after that, you can access a drop down menu that allows you to choose "all states and provinces." This search is not actually for all 50 states because not all participate, but it does allow you to search 39 states at once. Just be sure to look at the map to see which states do not participate. If your charity is active in any of those states, go back to unclaimed.org and search them individually.

quicklist: 3title: First/Last Name: text: You will see that some sites provide a separate field to search for unclaimed money for a business, including non-profits, and others do not. For those that do not, first try typing the name of the charity into the "last name" box. Then try using both the first and the last name boxes. For example, you can type "humane society" into the last name box. And you can also type "humane" into the first name box and "society" into the last name box. You should also reverse the non-profit's name, typing "society" into the first name box and "humane" into the last name box. You never know how data has been entered or sorted in a computer system.

quicklist: 4Title: Name Variations: Text: Unclaimed Money guru Mary Pitman, author of "The Little Book of Missing Money," never gives up! She is a master at coming up with alternative searches when the obvious ones yield nothing. Pitman reminds readers to try variations and abbreviations of a non-profit's name. For example, you should search under "ACS" in addition to American Cancer Society. Also, try just "Cancer" since that broadens the search and helps overcome misspellings. And don't forget about related terms like "Susan G. Komen" and "Race for the Cure."

quicklist: 5title: Business Suffixes: text: Finally, for the broadest possible search, you can drop the specific name of the organization entirely, and just search common business suffixes like "Company," "Co," "Society," "Soc," "Association," "Assoc," "Incorporated," "Inc.," "Limited" and "LLC." This will bring up a slew of alphabetical listings, and you can then scroll through them looking for the more specific name of the organization you are trying to help.

Click here for more on "GMA's" Unclaimed Money series.

Click here to return to the "Good Morning America" website.