BBB Consumer Tips: Charity Donations

The holiday giving season is in full swing and the current economy has not been kind to charities. BBB wants donors to get in the giving spirit, but to be informed in doing so. The holiday season is a time when most donors are their most generous. This is also the time of year when we advise donors to make sure they are giving to charities that are most worthy, said Janna Kiehl, BBB CEO. It is imperative that donors give to charities that are efficient and provide measurable outcomes. Now more than ever, there are many different ways to help the charity of your choice and we want donors to understand what questions they need to ask and what to look out for. 

Give to your favorite causes; but not until you follow these 10 tips:

1.Give, but give wisely! Make sure to check any charity you plan to donate to with BBB.

2.Sound-a-Like Charities. The holiday season is prime time for unethical individuals to take advantage of your giving spirit. Make sure you are donating to the right charity, not one you think sounds like a reputable charity. 

3.High pressure pitches. Don't fall for them. A reputable charity will answer questions and inform you about their operations. They know an informed donor is a loyal donor. 

4.Donating goods. If you donate goods, make sure they are in good condition. Giving a charity something they cannot use because it is in poor condition creates an undue burden on the charity you are trying to help. 

5.Text donations. This option took off after the earthquake in Haiti. After you text message a certain number, the donation is added to your cell phone bill. While this is fast and easy, the donation can take months to reach the charity. 

6.Do not give cash. Always give in the form of a check or money order made out to the charity, never an individual. 

7.Cause marketing. You will see many products out there that claim some proceeds will go to a certain cause. Make sure there is a disclosure of the actual or anticipated amount of purchase that will go to charity. 

8.Embedded giving. Many stores give you the option to donate to a charity by adding that amount to your receipt. Make sure you know exactly which charity will be benefitting from your donation. 

9.Online donations. One-third of the entire years online donations are made during the holiday season. Make sure you are giving through a secure website with https in the browser. You should also review the charity's privacy policy to see how your personal information can be used. 

10.Telemarketing. When giving over the phone you need to make sure you are giving directly to the charity and not to a third party. In some cases a for-profit telemarketing company may be taking a sizable portion of the donation you make.

Better Business Bureau 

720 South Tyler, Suite B112
(806) 379-6222

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