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Tis’ the Season to be On Guard

The hustle-bustle of the holiday season brings lots of excitement and stress. As you make your holiday gift list, fight the crowds on Black Friday and plan your menu for the festivities; you think about those less fortunate. During the season, many charitable organizations collect donations and give to those who wouldn’t have a holiday. With so many people feeling the spirit of the holidays, it is the time when the grinches of the holiday season appear. These grinches hide behind the veil of a charitable cause to scam people out of their money.

While your emotion to help others is great, it can lead you down the wrong path. When deciding to donate, you need to do your homework on a charity. Learn the exact name, contact information, and website address of the charity. When viewing the website, read about the mission, programs, and finances. Verify the charity’s registration in your state. Ask how donations are used and the percentage of donation spent on actual program versus fundraising. Look for a charity with less than 35% spent on fundraising. Also, ask how much of the donation is tax-deductible. For help with this, you can always reach out to give.org and the BBB Wise Giving Alliance – who does all that heavy lifting for you.

Do not click from social media websites to the charity. Scammers use a heart-wrenching post, and the click-through will be to a phony website, which looks completely legit.

If you receive a phone call asking for a donation, be careful of anyone who demands a quick response and pressures you to donate. Tell the caller you wish to check out the charity first. Do not use the information given by the caller to research the charity on the internet. A scammer will direct you to a fake website.

If you decide to use crowdfunding to give, note these website’s vetting procedures are minimal, which makes it difficult to verify the trustworthiness of those requesting donations.

Verifying a charity is a click away at BBB Wise Giving Alliance, give.org. BBB Wise Giving Alliance has 20 standards for a charity to meet, including governance and oversight, measuring effectiveness, finances, fundraising, and information material. Remember, a charity should be transparent with all its finances, both the dollar amount raised and who benefits from the donation.

While you are caught up in the holiday season, take time to help others in need; however, make sure you aren’t lining the pocket of the grinches.

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Written by Roseann Freitas

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