CHICAGO, IL - December 17, 2010 – Every holiday, millions of dollars are donated to worthy causes and now more than ever charities need the support of donors to help those who are struggling. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) advises donors to avoid five common mistakes in order to ensure their dollar stretches the farthest this holiday season.
“With so many people out of work and in need, it’s extremely important to maximize the impact that holiday donations have by avoiding common giving mistakes,” said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. “A smart donor takes a hard look at a charity’s programs, finances and governance before making a donation. While almost all charities have the best of intentions, not all organizations meet standards or are well managed.”
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance recommends that donors avoid these common mistakes when donating to a charity this holiday:
1. Failing to do your research before you give. Even good friends may not have fully researched the charities they endorse, so don’t just take their word for it; expertise is available. Go to www.bbb.org/charity to verify that a charity meets the BBB’s 20 Standards for Charity Accountability
2. Succumbing to high-pressure, emotional pitches. Giving on the spot is never necessary, no matter how hard a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor pushes it. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow.
3. Mistaking a charity’s identity. With so many charities in existence, their names can blur in a donor’s mind and similar-sounding organizations are common. Be sure you know which charity you’re supporting and that it’s not a case of mistaken identity.
4. Assuming that the charity wants any item you donate. Worn out, unusable or unwanted donated goods cost charities millions of dollars each year because the organization has to bear the cost of tossing the unacceptable donation. If you have questions about an item’s acceptability, call the charity and ask.
5. Thinking only “low overhead” matters. How much money a charity spends on the actual cause—as compared to how much goes toward fundraising and administration—is an important factor, but it’s not the whole story. A charity with impressive financial ratios could have other significant problems such as insufficient transparency, inadequate board activity and inaccurate appeals.
Donors can check out the BBB Wise Giving Alliance evaluations on national soliciting charities for free at www.bbb.org/charity. The Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and northern Illinois has a listing available of charities headquartered in northern Illinois. Please contact Nina Castle at firstname.lastname@example.org or 312-245-2516 to request a free PDF of the charity list.
For more information about charitable giving, visit www.bbb.org