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Do research before donating

  • Follow Your Business

Because of technology and the creativity of charities, there are many ways donors can give to a worthy cause. Whether you’re giving money, canned goods, used items or your time, the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance reminds donors that how you give is just as important as what you give.

According to the Giving USA Foundation, total estimated charitable giving in the United States rose 3.8 percent in 2010 (2.1 percent adjusted for inflation).

With a tight budget for donors this holiday season, it will be important to be creative when supporting those who are less fortunate. Give with your head in addition to your heart because every dollar that goes to an unworthy charity hurts the many worthy charities we need to support.

The BBB offers the following common ways that people donate to charities over the holidays and a few things to consider:

GIVE ITEMS. Many organizations solicit for donations over the holidays including coats, toys and canned goods. Make sure your donations are in good condition and that the recipient charity is accepting such items.

GIVE WHEN YOU SHOP. Many charities have had great success partnering with businesses that agree to donate a part of the purchase price from sales of items to a worthy cause. Check whether the promotion identifies the actual or anticipated amount of the purchase price the charity will receive. Also, some businesses, such as grocery stores, ask if you want to donate to a charity and have that amount added to your receipt. See whether the promotion states which charity will benefit.

GIVE ONLINE. Giving online with a credit or debit card is among the most efficient ways to support a charity. Before you enter your numbers, give the Web site a thorough review. Look for the organization’s privacy policy and verify whether there are security measures to protect such transactions.

GIVE THROUGH TEXT MESSAGING. The option to give via text message took off in the wake of the disastrous earthquake in Haiti. After texting a message to a number, the donation is tacked on to your cellphone bill. Though donating via text is fast and easy for the donor, the money can take 60 to 90 days to reach the charity because the funds are forwarded after you pay the donation charge on your next bill. During disaster-giving periods such as Haiti, however, cellphone carriers work to forward funds faster.

GIVE YOUR TIME. In today’s tight economy, you may not have money, but you can always give a little bit of your time to help support a worthy cause. In addition to volunteering around the holidays, you can also be a vocal supporter of a charity and help raise awareness among friends and family and on your Facebook page or blog.

To review charity evaluations and get more advice on how to give when times are tight, visit www.bbb.org/charity.


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