December is a critical fundraising month for charities. Many people make year-end gifts for tax reasons, or to extend the spirit of thanksgiving and generosity to those less fortunate.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers a few Dos and Don’ts when it comes to charity giving, at holiday time and year-round.
Don’t succumb to high-pressure, emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, no matter how hard a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor pushes it. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow - after you’ve had time to do your homework.
Do check out the charity carefully. Make sure you feel comfortable with how your money will be spent. Don’t just take the word of someone else; even good friends may not have fully researched the charities they endorse. Go to www.give.org to verify that a charity meets BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.
Don’t assume that only “low overhead” matters. How much money a charity spends on the actual cause – as compared to how much goes toward fundraising and administration – is an important factor, but it’s not the whole story. A charity with impressive financial ratios could have other significant problems such as insufficient transparency, inadequate board activity and inaccurate appeals.
Do be sure it’s the right charity. With so many charities in existence, their names can blur in a donor’s mind and similar-sounding organizations are common. Many phony charities purposefully choose a name that sounds familiar. Be sure you know which charity you’re supporting and that it’s not a case of mistaken identity.
Don’t assume that the charity wants any item you donate. Worn out, unusable or unwanted donated goods cost charities millions of dollars each year because the organization has to bear the cost of tossing the unacceptable donation. If you have questions about an item’s acceptability, call the charity and ask.
Do consider easy text-to-give options. The BBB Mobile Giving Foundation makes it easy to give smaller donations (usually $10) to charities they have selected and monitor, including those providing relief to victims of Hurricane Sandy. Go to www.mobilegiving.org to find out more.
Donors can check out BBB Wise Giving Alliance evaluations on nationally soliciting charities for free at www.give.org. Many BBBs also rate local and regional charities at www.bbb.org.