Pittsburgh, PA – November 27, 2017 – After the busy holiday shopping weekend is #GivingTuesday, a global day dedicated to giving back. 2017 marks the sixth year of #GivingTuesday and is often regarded as the start of the charitable season.

Over 10,000 organizations worldwide are engaged in this day when people around the world come together to celebrate generosity and give.

Last year, $168 million were raised as a result of #GivingTuesday. With American charities receiving approximately one-third of their annual donations during the holiday season, your Better Business Bureau is urging donors to give thoughtfully by researching organizations prior to donating their time and money. Donors should verify that charities they intend to support are well-managed, make good use of donations and are truly deserving of contributions.

“As we head into the last days of the year, it’s common for charities to increase their solicitation efforts across all platforms,” says Warren King, president of the Better Business Bureau of Western PA. “Before opening your heart and wallet, take the time to ask questions and ensure your donation is impacting an ethical organization.”

Follow BBB’s tips to help donors give wisely this holiday season:

  1. Watch out for name similarities. With so many charities in existence, beware of mistaken identity. There may be hundreds of charities seeking support for the same cause that have similar names. Before you give, know which charity you’re actually supporting and watch out for copycats.
  2. Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations, by phone, mail and social media. A charity that can use your donation today will welcome it just as much tomorrow or next week. If you make a donation online, always confirm the website is secure and that the URL begins with “https.” If donating by check, always make the check out directly to the organization and not to any professional fundraiser or solicitor’s name.
  3. Rely on standards and avoid charities that fail to disclose. Check with BBB Wise Giving Alliance at org to see if a national charity meets BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. BBB evaluates charities by looking beyond finances and overhead and examines governance, effectiveness, fundraising practices and more. Although participation is voluntary, national charities that don’t disclose requested information to BBB WGA should raise a critical flag for donors.
  4. Be wary of emotional appeals. Donors need to be mindful that marketers may exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas more powerful. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used or how the charity operates.
  5. Ask for details. If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don’t hesitate to ask for written information about programs and finances and a copy of the charity’s Annual Report. Ask for specific details if a charity is claiming that your “local” region will benefit or that it has an on-the-ground presence in a specific area. Any reputable charity should be transparent and welcome questions.

BBB is also reminding donors that charities are required to register with the Department of State – Bureau of Charitable Organizations, before soliciting in the state of Pennsylvania. For the appropriate office in all other states, check with the National Association of State Charity Officials.

Visit give.org for more helpful tips on wise giving and check out your Better Business Bureau’s Holiday Resource Center and the BBB Holiday Helper campaign for additional advice for the holiday season.

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