CHICAGO, IL - December 13, 2011 – With every
holiday, millions of dollars and items are donated to worthy causes, and now
more than ever charities need the support of donors. The Better Business Bureau
serving Chicago and Northern Illinois (BBB) offers guidelines and common
mistakes to avoid while making charitable donations this holiday season.
The BBB offers the following guidelines on ways to donate this holiday season:
- Give items. Many organizations solicit for various kinds of
donations over the holidays; including coats, toys, and canned goods. Whatever
you’re donating, make sure the items are in good condition and that the
recipient charity is accepting such items to help further its cause.
- Give when you shop. Many charities have had great success partnering
with businesses who agree to donate some amount of the purchase price from
sales of items to a worthy cause. This type of cause-related marketing means you
can help while you shop. Check if the promotion identifies the actual or
anticipated amount of the purchase price the charity will receive.
- Give online. Giving online with a credit or debit card is among the
most efficient ways to support a charity. However, before you enter in your
numbers, give the website a thorough review and look for the organization’s
in place to protect your transactions.
- Give your time. In today’s tight economy, you may not have money, but
you can always give a little bit of your time to help support a worthy cause.
The BBB also offers advice on avoiding common
mistakes when donating, including:
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Thinking only “low overhead”
matters. How much money a charity spends on the actual
cause—as compared to how much goes toward fund raising and
administration—is an important factor.
- Do not give cash. If you contribute, write out
a check to the charity’s full official name, not to an individual or third
party that might be collecting the donation.
- Internet appeals require careful
those making donations to giving sites on the Internet, look for clear
disclosures that explain how much of the gift goes to the charity, the
credit card transactions
- Keep records of your donations.
receipts, canceled checks, and bank statements that verify your contribution
amounts. The IRS also requires donations to be substantiated through a
written confirmation from the charity.
- Check with outside sources. Check with your appropriate
state government authorities to verify that the charity is registered to
solicit in your state. Check http://www.bbb.org/us/Charity-Reviews/
for problems such as insufficient
transparency, inadequate board activity and inaccurate appeals.
For more information on making wise charitable
donations, visit www.bbb.org
As a private, non-profit
organization, the purpose of the Better Business Bureau is to promote an
ethical marketplace. BBBs help resolve buyer/seller complaints by means of
conciliation, mediation and arbitration. BBBs also review advertising claims,
online business practices and charitable organizations. BBBs develop and issue
reviews on businesses and nonprofit organizations and encourage people to check
out a company or charity before making a purchase or donation.