The spirit of Christmas brings out the best in people throughout the CSRA and their desire to help the less fortunate. Along with the holidays come charity mail appeals, The Augusta Chronicle’s Empty Stocking Fund and our familiar Red Kettle with bell ringers, all looking for donations to help those in need. The greater Augusta area is blessed with so many wonderful charities that make our community a better place to live.
It also brings out some scams that use deception to get money from folks who believe they are making donations to charities. Along with fraudulent phone and mail charities, beware of email scams and phony websites. To prevent charity fraud, here are a few tips to assist you in making a wise choice with your charitable giving:
• Never give in to high-pressure sales tactics to donate.
• Always verify the charity. Research any charity before you donate, and make sure your donation will be used what it’s intended for.
• Never give your credit card information to an organization you are unfamiliar with.
• Find out if the charity has their finances and services monitored by an outside agency such as the United Way, or check with the Better Business Bureau.
• Charity watchdog groups recommend charities with about 80 percent of total expenses spent on programs and services.
You’ve heard the saying “let the buyer beware”? Well, donors also should be diligent.
I welcome inquiries from donors who want to know how their donations will be used and where they go. All our gifts to the Red Kettles stay right here in the CSRA to help our neighbors in need. Out of every dollar to The Salvation Army of Greater Augusta, 86 cents go to programs and services, with only 9 cents for administration and 5 cents for fundraising.
Remember, it’s your money, and if you choose to share your blessings, be sure it will go to an organization that shares your charitable ideals and where your contribution will make a real difference.
(The writer is director of development for The Salvation Army of Greater Augusta.)