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Seeing the suffering and struggle around us, many people want to reach into their wallets and help. For some putting their money where their mouth is, is a way they can help organizations and movements bring about the change they want to see. Making the decision where to donate is complicated, with thousands of organizations and groups to give to, so how do you decide?

Kelsey Gardipee, Charity Review Manager for Better Business Bureau Northwest & Pacific, says, “Donating to a cause you support is a great way to help make a difference. To make sure that your donation makes the greatest impact, do a quick bit of research first to ensure that you know who you’re donating to.”

While most that are gathering donations have good intentions, not all groups and organizations are equal in how they distribute and manage the funds you give. Research is vital, so you know how your money will lend support and help. Often, an established charity will have the capacity and experience to address the situation and has a track record that can be evaluated.

Gardipee also clarified, “BBB accredits charities to help donors find trustworthy organizations to support, but we recognize that there are other avenues out there to support racial equality. When dealing with crowdfunding campaigns, social welfare groups (501c(c)4s), and newly formed organizations, you’ll have to take different steps to verify their accountability before donating.”

No matter the group or organization you want to support, it’s vital that your money is used the way you want it to be used. Better Business Bureau gives these tips to donate thoughtfully.

Give to people and organizations you know. While charities can be vetted, it is much more challenging to assess the trustworthiness of individuals who have posted a request for assistance. As a result, it is safest to give to crowdfunding posts of people you know. If that is not possible, the next best circumstance is to find out if the funds collected are going to be forwarded and distributed by an established charitable organization. In that case, the organization can be checked out, and the involvement of a third-party organization can provide an additional level of oversight and assurance. Newly established charitable entities may be well-intentioned, but may not have the skills and infrastructure to provide immediate help.

Ask questions, and do your research. If you plan to donate to a 501(c)4 organization, take the extra step to look at their IRS Form 990 up on GuideStar.org and ask the organization the questions that will make you feel comfortable in giving your donation.

See if the posting describes how funds will be used. Vague descriptions of how the collected funds will be used should also be a yellow caution light. For example, will the funds be used to assist funeral expenses, medical expenses, reconstruction, or other activities? Thoughtful requests for funding will take the added step of identifying and verifying needs before the money is raised.

As your heart moves you to help and bring about change, taking the time to ensure your well-intentioned help is going to the right place will help you as an individual feel more confident in your donation and encouraged to donate again.

ABOUT BBB WISE GIVING ALLIANCE: BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally-soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, fundraising, appeal accuracy, and other issues. Learn more about the 20 BBB Charity Standards and about local charity review at local Better Business Bureaus at Give.org.

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Written by Jeremy Johnson

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