Donating to charities happens all year long, but especially during the holiday season. Make sure that your time or money goes to an organization that has a mission you support and where you money goes towards programs!
Basic tips for any donation include:
· Confirm existence of the charity through local charity registration or with your Better Business Bureau (BBB), www.bbb.org.
· Make sure you have the charities full name, address and phone number.
· Ask what percentage of your donation goes to the charity’s programs. The BBB recommends at least 65%. Be careful of statements like “all proceeds go to charity.”
· Always ask for a receipt for your donation, this helps you document for tax time.
· Find out if the donation will be tax deductible, only donations to 501c3 public charities are tax-deductible. http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Search-for-Charities
· Don’t donate because the charity or individual names impress you or based on emotions.
· There are scammers that will use names that sound like well-known, reputable organizations to fool you.
Tips for specific types of donations:
· Charities or organizations should be identified clearly. General and specific information should be explained in clear language.
· Requests should not be made to look like bills or invoices. You are not obligated to make donations.
· Any received, unordered products don’t require a donation. You are not required to make a donation for something you didn’t order and you are not required to send items back.
In-person or telemarketing:
· Don’t feel pressured to give on the spot, take your time to check out the charity. Legitimate charities are willing to answer questions and contact you again if you need time to check out them out. Good charities recognize that an informed donor will become a loyal donor, one that gives more than once.
· Many organizations ask for specific items during the holidays, including coats, toys, and canned goods.
· Make sure the items are in good condition before donating.
Give when you shop:
· Many charities partner with businesses for donations.
· Check to see if the promotion identifies the actual or anticipated amount of the purchase price the charity will receive. Some businesses, like grocery stores, ask if you want to donate to a charity and have that amount added to your receipt, which is called embedded giving. See if the embedded promotion states which specific charity will receive the collected funds.
· Make sure the organization has appropriate security measures in place to protect such transactions. Look for https (the ‘s’ is important) in the website.
Give through text messaging:
· The donation is usually added to your cell phone bill. However, the donation can take months to reach the charity, so consider donating directly to a charity through its website, if there is an urgent need.
Give your time:
· Contact a charity directly and ask them how you can help with your time. All charities need volunteers!
· Support the charity vocally by raising awareness among friends and family through social networking or a blog.
BBB issues reports on more than 45,000 charitable organizations at www.bbb.org and determines if they meet 20 accountability standards addressing governance, finances and fund raising practices.
About the Better Business Bureau (BBB)
The Better Business Bureau of Utah is a 501(c)(6) not-for-profit corporation serving the entire state of Utah. The organization is funded primarily by membership dues from more than 2,700 local business and professional firms. The BBB promotes integrity, consumer confidence and business ethics through business self-regulation in the local marketplace. Services provided by the BBB include reliability reports on companies and charitable organizations, general monitoring of advertising in the marketplace, dispute resolution services, and consumer/business education programs. All services are provided at no cost to the public, with the occasional exception of arbitration. Visit www.utah.bbb.org or call 801-892-6009.