ATLANTA — The Better Business Bureau serving Metro Atlanta, Athens and northeast Georgia urges donors to research charities before giving to ensure their generous contributions are going to trustworthy organizations. Visit bbb.org/holidaytips for these and other smart tips to help consumers stay savvy this holiday season.
The holiday giving season is the most generous time for donors. Since 2012, however, it has become even more so with the emergence and growth of Giving Tuesday, which was started by the New York-based 92Y in collaboration with United Nations Foundation. Taking place on the Tuesday after Black Friday and Cyber Monday, this movement has cumulatively help generate over $1 billion for online charitable giving worldwide. While this movement initially operated as a program of 92Y, in the past year GivingTuesday has become a separate charitable organization.
If you give to any charity during the holiday season, BBB’s Give.org urges donors to research charities before giving to ensure their generous contributions are going to trustworthy organizations.
“The evaluations we provide give donors insight into charity trustworthiness, helping them make wiser giving decisions,” Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB WGA, said in a news release. ”Holiday donations can make a real impact. Therefore, it’s critical that donors’ hard-earned dollars go to charities that operate ethically.”
BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips to help donors give wisely and make the most of their generosity this holiday season and all year round:
♦ 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.
♦ Review the website carefully. A responsible charity will include the following facts on its website: its mission and programs, measurable goals, and concrete criteria that describe its achievements. You should also be able to find information on their finances. Keep in mind, the type of work a charity does will affect its costs.
♦ 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.
♦ Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Instead of making an impulse decision based on emotion, do some research first to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.
♦ Check with state charity officials. In many states, charities are required to register with the office of the attorney general before soliciting. Checking your state’s appropriate office is an easy way to detect if an organization is legitimate or not. You can find this information on the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) website.
♦ 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.
♦ 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.
BONUS TIP: Research tax status. Don’t assume every organization claiming to do good is a tax-exempt charity. You can check an organization’s tax status with the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Also, make sure your contribution is tax deductible.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally-soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, fundraising, appeal accuracy, and other issues. National charity reports are produced by the BBB WGA and local charity reports are produced by local Better Business Bureaus — all reports are available at Give.org.
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Always visit BBB.org to check the reliability of any company before doing business. There you can also find a free list of BBB Accredited companies committed to ethical business practices.