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Season of Giving

by Rebecca Barr | Dec 23, 2020 9:00:00 AM

“Ding, dong, ding dong! Christmas bells are ringing!”

It’s not the holidays if there isn’t snow in the forecast and a red kettle greeting you at a store entrance. The bells that famously accompany those kettles have had to ring a little louder this year.

Fewer in-store shoppers mean less money gifted to charities like the Salvation Army. Nonprofits that rely on consumer contributions are having to work harder than ever to keep their donations coming.

After all, the holiday season isn’t just for gift giving. This is a time when many of us look to support members of our community via a charitable gift. With everyone socially distant right now, reminders to make those contributions have been a little harder to come by.

The pandemic forced tens of thousands of charities, nonprofits and other organizations to cancel or postpone many of their other primary fundraising efforts. They need our help now more than ever.

While it may be easy to identify an organization that needs your help, making sure the charity you choose is trustworthy should be a high priority prior to giving. Holiday donations make a real impact, so it’s critical donors’ hard-earned dollars go to groups that operate ethically.

Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance shared these tips for giving wisely this holiday season:

Watch out for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.

Review the website carefully. A responsible charity’s website will include information on its mission and programs, measurable goals and a thorough description of its achievements. You should also be able to find a detailed account of their finances. Keep in mind, the type of work a charity does will affect its costs.

Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. The holidays bring a higher frequency of instant donation requests, like the ones you may encounter at a storefront. Don’t succumb to any unnecessary pressure. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.

Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays using emotional pleas. Instead of making an impulse decision based on an impulse reaction, do some research to verify your selected charity operates ethically.

Rely on standards-based evaluations. Charities can demonstrate their trustworthiness by agreeing to in-depth evaluations, such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Get free access to charity reports at Give.org.

Research tax status. Don’t assume every organization claiming to do good is a tax-exempt charity. You can check an organization’s tax status with the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Also, make sure your contribution is tax deductible.

Learn more about supporting trustworthy charities at trust-bbb.org/charities.

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