National Consumer Protection Week: How to give wisely all year long

Do you enjoy giving back, but want to be sure your dollar is used responsibly? As part of National Consumer Protection Week, BBB offers some wise giving tips for charitable giving.

ID-100199455There are many ways to help those across the world who need the help. From a shocking tsunami to devastating hurricanes, many Americans want to help by giving donations to relief agencies and charities. However, whether you offer support during a crisis or give regularly to your favorite charity, there are people who attempt to take advantage of the public’s eagerness to help others.

Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance has created Standards for Charity Accountability to assist donors in making sound giving decisions and to foster public confidence in charitable organizations.

These standards seek to encourage fair and honest solicitation practices, to promote ethical conduct by charitable organizations and to advance support of philanthropy. You can check with your BBB at http://www.give.org to get reports on how national charities measure up to BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

Before you donate, BBB has this advice for giving wisely:

  • Research the organization. Check with your BBB at http://www.give.org to get reports on how national charities measure up to BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Confirm the organization is registered with the IRS as a 501(c)(3) and verify the programs and distribution of money is where you want it to be. According to BBB’s Standards for Charity Accountability: 1) At least 65 percent of total expenses should be spent on program activities. 2) No more than 35 percent of related contributions can be spent on fundraising.
  • Do not give cash. Always make contributions by check and make your check payable to the charity, not to the individual collecting the donation.
  • Keep records of your donations. You have to keep a record of all donations so you can document your charitable giving at tax time. Although your time as a volunteer is not deductible, out-of-pocket expenses directly related to your volunteer service to a charity may be deductible.
  • Be wary of imitations. Don’t be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely resemble the name of well-known organizations.
  • Confirm text code numbers. If you plan to donate by text, confirm the text code number directly with the charity. Also, keep in mind that text message donations are typically not immediate. Depending on your cell phone provider, the donation may not show up on your bill for 30 to 90 days.