Pittsburgh, PA – Over the past seven years, the global generosity movement collectively known as Giving Tuesday, has grown into an event that inspires hundreds of millions of people to give, collaborate, and celebrate generosity. From collection kettles and soup kitchens to toy drives and online charities, the spirit of the holidays means giving to favorite causes and assisting the less fortunate. American charities will likely receive one-third of their annual donations during the holiday season.
If you plan to make a donation this giving season, BBB Wise Giving Alliance (BBB WGA) urges donors to research charities before giving to ensure that their generous contributions are going to trustworthy organizations.
BBB WGA is sharing the following tips to help donors give wisely and make the most of their generosity this holiday season and all year round:
1. Watch out for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.
2. Review the website carefully. A responsible charity will include the following facts on its website: its mission and programs, measurable goals, and concrete criteria that describe its achievements. You should also be able to find information on their finances. Keep in mind, the type of work a charity does will affect its costs.
3. Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.
4. Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Instead of making an impulse decision based on emotion, do some research first to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.
5. Check with PA state charity officials. In many states, charities are required to register with the Office of the Attorney General before soliciting. In Pennsylvania, The Bureau of Corporations and Charitable Organizations administers the state’s charitable solicitation law. It also maintains registration and financial information on over 13,000 charities soliciting in the Commonwealth, as well as professional solicitors and fundraising counsels. Search PA state charities here.
6. Avoid charities that don’t disclose. Although participation is voluntary, national charities that don’t disclose any of the requested information to BBB WGA raise a critical red flag for donors. Visit Give.org to find out if your selected charity is nondisclosure.
7. Rely on standards-based evaluations. Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by agreeing to in-depth evaluations such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Get free access to charity reports at Give.org.
8. Research tax status. Don’t assume every organization claiming to do good is a tax-exempt charity. You can check an organization’s tax status with the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Also, make sure your contribution is tax deductible.
ABOUT BBB: For more than 100 years, the Better Business Bureau has been helping people find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2018, people turned to BBB more than 173 million times for BBB Business Profiles on more than 5.4 million businesses and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at bbb.org. There are local, independent BBBs across the United States, Canada and Mexico, including your BBB Serving Western Pennsylvania, which was founded in 1931 and serves the 28 counties of Western PA.