Giving Wisely on Giving Tuesday

By Jerri Stroud, BBB Editor

man holding coinsGiving Tuesday is being promoted by charities of all stripes this holiday season. If you’ve ever donated to a charity, you’ve probably already received emails or solicitation letters seeking your donation on Dec. 2, the date for Giving Tuesday this year.

Many charities are promoting the day with the hashtag #givingtuesday in their social media and other promotions.

The focus on this special day of giving began with the 92nd Street YMCA in New York City and has grown to include charities nationwide over the last few years. The promotion builds on the notion that Americans are feeling more generous during the holidays as well as statistics showing that the majority of charitable giving occurs in the last quarter of the year.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) sees Giving Tuesday as an opportunity for legitimate charities to solicit donations. But BBB also warns donors that some charitable solicitations may come from organizations that spend little on programs. In addition, scammers may attempt to use the publicity surrounding the day to find susceptible victims.

BBB Accredited Charity sealBBB is offering donors assistance in finding trustworthy charities amid all the Giving Tuesday publicity. Our online Guide to BBB Accredited Charities has information on more than 200 Accredited Charities in Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois. Donors can click on buttons to donate, volunteer or get involved with these charities.

For most of its history, BBB has been involved in evaluating charities. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance has established standards for charities to meet to qualify for BBB Accreditation and use of the BBB Accredited Charity seal. The standards cover a charity’s finances, fundraising practices, governance and effectiveness.

The Wise Giving Alliance accredits many national charities, including many with chapters in Missouri and Illinois. Their reviews are available at www.give.org.

BBB Serving Eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois has been evaluating local charities for more than a dozen years. More than 200 local charities have met BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability and have been offered BBB Accredited Charity status and the right to use the BBB Accredited Charity seal. If you see this seal on a charity’s website, you can click on it to confirm the charity’s Accreditation and read its BBB Charity Review.

BBB has tips that increase your confidence that your donation will be used wisely:

  • If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don’t hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.
  • Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.
  • Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that it has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal facts. (Secure sites’ addresses begin with https://.)
  • When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.
  • Before donating used items, make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and could do more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.

BBB urges donors to seek professional advice if they are in doubt about the deductibility of contributions. Other helpful tips for making donations are posted on BBB’s website (www.bbb.org). The IRS Web site (www.irs.gov) has information on the deductibility of donations on tax returns.

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