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BBB: Only a few ‘giving days’ left in 2014 – how to give wisely

Better Business Bureau

If you are looking for one last tax-deduction before year-end, BBB suggests you make a charitable contribution to a non-profit organization.

BBB evaluates locally-soliciting charities on 20 standards covering fundraising, finances, governance and oversight, and the organization’s efforts to measure its effectiveness. BBB Wise Giving Alliance established these standards to help donors make informed decisions.

“About 70 percent of Americans feel it is difficult to tell whether a charity soliciting their contribution is legitimate and actually does the kind of charity work it says it does,” said BBB President Tom Bartholomy. “Charities have an obligation to be open and transparent so that the public can make confident decisions when donating money.”

If you are giving this holiday season, BBB offers the following advice:

  • When in doubt, check it out. When an unfamiliar organization asks you for a donation, do not give without getting details about the charity first.
  • Do not be fooled by low overhead claims. We have seen many cases where charities spend acceptable amounts on fundraising and administration, yet still fail to meet one or more of BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. When giving to charity, ask if they are accredited by BBB. If not, ask why.
  • Think before you give. Ask for the charity’s name, address, and written information on the charity’s programs and finances.
  • Watch out for cases of mistaken identity. With more than one million charities in the U.S., some charity names sound alike. Be careful that the one soliciting you is the one you have in mind.
  • Know how much of your purchase goes to the charity. If something is being sold to benefit a charity, be wary of statements such as “all proceeds go to charity”. Look for a disclosure that states how much will go to the charity’s programs.
  • Watch out for charity fraud. Legitimate charities willingly provide written information about their programs and finances. They never insist you provide your credit card number or bank account number.

For more information, please visit BBB or call the BBB at 1-877-317-7236 toll-free in N.C. and S.C.

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