A reader: I have been receiving numerous solicitations via email and some in person to donate to charities this holiday season. What tips can BBB offer to make sure my hard-earned money goes to those really in need?
Action Line: From collection kettles to toy drives to end-of-the-year tax deductions, the spirit of the holidays means giving to favorite causes and to those less fortunate. American charities receive one-third of their annual donations during the holiday season.
With that in mind, several charities started Giving Tuesday to follow the busy shopping weekend after Thanksgiving (Black Friday, Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday). Giving Tuesday falls on Dec. 1 this year.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges donors to research charities before giving to ensure that their generous contributions are going to trustworthy organizations. BBB WGA evaluations give donors insight into charity trustworthiness so that their hard-earned dollars go to charities that operate ethically.
BBB WGA is sharing five tips to help donors give wisely and make the most of their generosity this holiday season:
1. Watch out for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.
2. Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.
3. Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Always research to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.
4. Avoid charities that don’t disclose. Although participation is voluntary, charities that don’t disclose any of the requested information to BBB WGA raise a critical red flag for donors. Visit Give.org to find out if your selected charity is nondisclosure.
5. Rely on standards-based evaluations. Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by agreeing to in-depth evaluations such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Get free access to charity reports at Give.org.
Action Line is written by Blair Looney, president and CEO for the Better Business Bureau serving Central California. Send your consumer concerns, questions and problems to Action Line at the Better Business Bureau, 4201 W. Shaw Ave., Suite 107, Fresno, CA 93722 or firstname.lastname@example.org.