BBB Offers Tips on Holiday Giving
November 26, 2012 - Today is Giving Tuesday, "a national day of giving at the start of the annual holiday season" that was started by several major charities. BBB Wise Giving Alliance enthusiastically supports Giving Tuesday, with the caveat that donors and volunteers make sure the charities they support are well-managed and make good use of their donations.
"Giving Tuesday is a great way to balance the excesses of the long weekend dedicated to eating and shopping," said Blair Looney, President and CEO of the BBB serving Central California. "But it's important for donors to do a little homework first to make sure they are comfortable with each charity they support, not only its mission but also how well it follows guidelines for financial management, transparency and leadership."
BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips:
1 . Consider more than finances.
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.
2. 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 give.org to see if a national charity meets the BBB's 20 Standards for Charity Accountability. Visit cencal.bbb.org for information on local charities.
3. Be wary of 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.
4. Verify donated items are needed.
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. Confirm the 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.
BBB Wise Giving Alliance also has suggestions for businesses that engage in cause-related marketing promotions that announce a consumer purchase will help a charity. The business should be sure to (a) have a written agreement with the charity that authorized this use, and (b) disclose in promotions the actual or anticipated amount of the consumer purchase that will benefit the charity.