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Giving Tuesday: BBB Advises Checking Charities Out Before Making Year-End Gifts

Dec. 3, 2013

For many Americans, giving to charities is almost as important during the holidays as celebrating with family. Whether you celebrate or not, giving before Jan. 1 means that your gifts will be deductible on your 2013 tax return.

Better Business Bureau Serving Wisconsin (BBB) has tips to help donors find deserving charities – and to make giving more effective as well as deductible.

Charities know that people are often in a generous mood during the holidays – or that they put off giving until their tax adviser suggests that it could reduce their tax bill in April. As a result, mailboxes often are stuffed with charitable solicitations and donation requests this time of year.

“Donors want to know that their money is being used wisely when they give to a charity or make a donation,” said Ran Hoth, CEO/President. “If they see a BBB Accredited Charity seal on a charity’s website or other literature, they can be assured that the charity complies with the BBB’s 20 Standards of Charity Accountability.”

The BBB offers 5 tips to increase your confidence when donating:

If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don't hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.

Don't succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.

Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that it has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal facts. (Secure sites’ addresses begin with https://.)

When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.

Before donating used items, make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and does more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.
The BBB urges donors to seek professional advice if they are in doubt about the deductibility of contributions.

Other helpful tips for making donations are posted on the BBB website (www.bbb.org). The IRS Web site (www.irs.gov) has information on the deductibility of donations on tax returns.

Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Reviews and Charity Reviews by going online to www.bbb.org.

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