As 2016 winds down, most charities are working hard to make fundraising goals and encourage greater giving during the most active time for charity donations. Some organizations receive about one-third of their overall contributions during the last quarter of the year.
There are a lot of motivating factors that converge to create these fundraising incentives during this time, including the influence of the holidays to remember those in need, special promotions such as Giving Tuesday – the designated day of giving on November 29th, and the closing window for those in the U.S. who wish to take a tax deduction on their federal income taxes.
While this is a time of cheer, there are scammers out there looking to make a buck off the public’s good will. In one instance, an Idaho woman donated $20 and a cell phone for a care package to be sent overseas. It wasn’t until after she made her donation that she realized the “charity” was a scam.
Before donating to a charity this holiday season, BBB recommends the following tips:
Be on the lookout for name similarities. Charities with similar missions may have similar names, and fraudsters are known for trying to confuse people with fake names that are close to the real charities. Before giving, be sure to have the correct name of the charity you want to support.
Avoid charities that don’t disclose. Always ask for proof of their nonprofit status and ask for their Federal Tax Identification number. Check out organizations you’re considering with charity watchdogs, which make it easier to see where your dollars have the greatest impact. The three major ones are: the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and CharityWatch. They evaluate charities by looking at a number of factors, including how much of your donation actually reaches the causes you want to support. For example, BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance organizations must spend at least 65 percent of their donations on charitable program activities, and fundraising costs can’t exceed 35 percent.
Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions. The holidays bring a high frequency of donation requests. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate decision. Responsible organizations will welcome the gift tomorrow as much as they do today. Have a plan for your giving, $5 and $10 donations add up quickly.
Text a donation. The Mobile Giving Foundation offers nonprofits a way to receive donations via text message. The group screens charities before allowing them access to the platform. The service provides organizations an easier donation process if they are already a BBB Accredited Charity. For more information on donating directly from your mobile device, visit www.mobilegiving.org.
For more consumer protection tips and information on BBB investigations, visit bbb.org/northwest.
Subscribe to the Morning Review newsletter
Get the day’s top headlines delivered to your inbox every morning by subscribing to our newsletter.