Burnsville, Minnesota– December 11, 2014 –Some people support their favorite charities and causes throughout the year, but many wait until the holidays to extend the spirit of the season to those in need in their communities and throughout the world. Better Business Bureau of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) offers some DOs and DON’Ts that apply year-round when it comes to charitable giving, and these tips will help ensure your donations reach their intended destinations this holiday season.
DON’T succumb to high-pressure, emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, and if a telemarketer or person on your doorstep plays the guilt card things may not be what they seem. Well-run charities won’t impose on you or put you in a tough spot. They will welcome your donation just as much after you’ve had time to do your due diligence.
DO research the charity. Make sure you feel comfortable with how your money will be spent. Don’t just take the word of someone else; the most important action a donor can take before donating is to check the trustworthiness of the charity. BBB Wise Giving Alliance (give.org) evaluates charitable organizations on 20 holistic standards covering governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, appeal accuracy and other issues to assist donors in making informed giving decisions.
DON’T give out your credit card number over the phone. The days where you could give out sensitive financial information over the phone are over. With the number of fraudulent solicitors out there, you want to be sure your information – personal and financial – stays secure. Go directly to the website of the charity you’re supporting and make your donation there. Always look in the address box for the “s” in https:// or in the lower-right corner for the “lock” symbol before making your donation.
DO be sure it’s the right charity. With so many similar-sounding organizations, names can blur in a donor’s mind. Many phony charities purposefully choose a name that sounds similar to more familiar, legitimate outfits. Do the legwork and make sure your gift reaches the group or cause you’re looking to support. Donors can research BBB Wise Giving Alliance evaluations on nationally soliciting charities for free anytime at give.org.
DON’T assumethat the charity wants any item you donate. Worn out, unusable or unwanted goods cost charities millions of dollars each year because the organization has to bear the cost of disposing of unacceptable donations. If you have questions about an item’s acceptability, visit a given charity’s website or call them directly and ask.
DO consider easy text-to-give options. BBB Mobile Giving Foundation makes it easy to give smaller donations (usually $10) to charities they monitor, including those providing relief to victims of famine and natural disasters the world over. Visit mobilegiving.org to learn more.
Lastly, if you’re planning on claiming your donations as tax deductions, verify the charities you’re supporting have received their 501(c)(3) tax-exempt status.