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BBB® Tips for Charitable Giving During the Holidays

Michigan Business Network
November 22, 2017 10:00 AM

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Southfield, MI – November 20, 2017 – With the busiest weekend of the year upon us, people are making their lists and checking them twice to make sure they have everything to make their holiday go a little smoother. Before the turkey is even off the tables, Black Friday will have already begun, then comes Small Business Saturday and Cyber Monday. Let’s not forget about Giving Tuesday. While it may not be a day with big shopping deals and money saved, it’s a day that has become increasingly more popular since it began six years ago.

There are many reasons why people choose the holidays to give to charity. Some may be looking to meet deadlines for last-minute tax deductions, some desire to give out of the goodness of their hearts and others are moved by a specific charity's services. Whatever your reason for donating to charity, BBB wants donors to give wisely. Charitable giving tends to peak during the holiday season, so if you plan to open your pocketbook to a charity this year, make your donation count by following these basic giving tips:

• Know the charity's exact name and contact information/website. Thousands of charities have similar names and charities can be easily confused.

• Take time to research a charity before deciding to give. Resist pressure to give money on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or a solicitor canvassing the neighborhood. Legitimate charities will gladly accept your donation after you've done the research and after they've had time to send you additional information.

• Review a charity's website for the basics. A legitimate charity will list its mission, program details and finances openly on its website. If basic information is not available, request the information and search for a national charity report at give.org. Determine whether a charity meets BBB's 20 Standards for Charity Accountability.

• Verify the charity is properly registered with the state.

• Be aware some organizations will use emotional, heart-wrenching stories to appeal to potential donors, urging them to make an emotional decision, rather than a rational one. Find out how your money will be used to help those in need.

• Ask for details about how a donation is used. If a charity says its mission is to help the needy, find out specifically how the targeted population will be helped and where your donation will go geographically. Don't be afraid to ask what percentage of your donation is spent on actual program activities versus fundraising expenses. In order for a charity to meet BBB standards, no more than 35 percent of related contributions can be spent on fundraising.

• Not all donations to soliciting organizations will be considered tax exempt. Check an organization's tax status with the IRS.

• When donating online, make sure you're on the verified website of a legitimate charity. Don't enter any personal or financial information on sites that aren't secure. Check for the lock symbol and the URL will start with https://.

Check out BBB's #GivingTuesday Trends and Tips. Visit give.org for more wise giving tips.

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About Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula Better Business Bureau Serving Eastern Michigan and the Upper Peninsula is a non-profit organization with the purpose of promoting trust in the marketplace by assisting in the protection of consumers and businesses from fraud and unethical business practices. In addition to its recognized dispute resolution services, BBB maintains business reviews on the customer service history of more than 85,000 local businesses and provides consumer education materials on numerous topics. BBB provides its services free to the public and its service territory stretches across Eastern Michigan from Ann Arbor through Metropolitan Detroit, Lansing, Flint, upward to Alpena, and covers the entire Upper Peninsula of the state.

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