We all shop online. It's become so familiar to us that we hardly even think about it anymore. We just type in our credit card number any old place and hope we get what we ordered. Well, I suppose some of us do that. We should be more careful.

Yet when it comes to donating money, for some reason, we are a little more careful. The simple fact is, fundraising is a major positive to come out of the world being on social media. As easily as we can connect with our friends, we can also be connected to causes, organizations, individuals and areas that need our help. Social fundraising is here to stay because it's effective and fairly easy.

But it's important to remember that wherever there is a good thing, a counterfeit is never far away. There are some tell-tale signs that we can look out for to know if an online fundraiser is just another scam to get your money, your credit card information or any other info that could harm you. Here are 10 questions to ask yourself when navigating online fundraisers you get on social media and via email.

1. Is it someone you know or vouched for by someone you know?

We trust our personal friends and family, so if the fundraiser is benefitting them, or they are personally involved with the person/organization it's benefitting, that's usually a no-brainer. Be generous!

2. Have you heard of them?

Sometimes the best advice is the most obvious. You might not be a huge online shopper, but chances are you've heard of Amazon and eBay. There is a certain credibility that usually, though not always, accompanies notoriety. It's a good gut check to continue learning about the cause and determining if you'd feel comfortable donating any money.

3. Does the money go to a respected charity?

Believe it or not, there is an entire cottage industry that focuses on vetting whether charitable organizations are legitimate, responsible, fiscally honest and otherwise above-board. Consult these websites and watchdogs like Charity Navigator, or Given Tree. There are even organizations that specialize in helping your family or company customize their charitable giving to vetted projects and nonprofits.

4. Is the graphic or user design bad/buggy?

This is one area where you can judge a book by its cover, and the result is often more reliable than you might think. Just think about the sites you visit when you shop. Is it easy to navigate? Do you have any problems customizing, adding to or deleting your order? Is the purchase process simple and streamlined? Does it look respectable? Are there too many annoying ads that get in your way when you navigate the site? These are all things to consider.

5. Do they have the little bits of their website filled out?

Scroll down to the footer of the page, is it all filled in? Do they have real information on their "about us" page? Are there real emails and phone numbers, and, most importantly, are there terms of service that are unique and applicable to the website you're on?

6. Is there evidence of work that organization has done elsewhere in the news?

In the industry it's called third-party credibility, which means that someone other than the person or organization asking for your money has vouched for the fundraiser. This is typically more applicable for organizational giving to charities and nonprofits, but even personal fundraisers are featured on local news outlets. Rule of thumb: just do a quick Google search. If others, particularly journalists, are talking about the fundraiser in question, it's valuable to know what they have to say.

7. Are they part of an online giving environment?

Just like Etsy provides an element of credibility to the individual shops under its umbrella, there are charitable sites like that as well. If you are petitioned to give to a local education or school project, check to see if the crowdfunding campaign is listed on Donors Choose, a site that specializes in hosting these types of campaigns. Crowdrise and Kickstarter are two other charitable crowdfunding sites to look to for projects that have an extra layer of vetting, which is important for campaigns that aren't backed by a larger organization like the Red Cross or other nonprofit.

8. Does it stink?

Simply put, if it smells like a scam, it probably is. You know scams. Most of them can be seen a mile away. They charm and talk big, but they also persist and make you feel uncomfortable. They typically have more aggressive follow-up and they might even spam email you. Word of advice: Do the smell test. If it stinks, bag it.

Scams do exist. The important thing is not to let them scare you away from what can be a really engaging, enjoyable and rewarding charitable experience. Crowdfunding is here to stay, and the good that it does far outweighs the bad. As we navigate the new world of online giving, we can be careful, but ultimately, it's just like shopping.

A city lover living large in the suburbs, Joseph Peterson likes to explore everything from politics to food to the ways we can be a positive influence to the world around us. Connect with him on Twitter @planetjoseph