Consumer Reports: Choosing A Charity

ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- December 3 is Giving Tuesday, a generosity movement that started in 2012, and a day when many Americans donate to their favorite charities.

People seem to open up their wallets a little more during the holidays. But how can you make sure your money is doing the most good?

Consumer Reports says to research any specific charity before you donate. Some charities may spend too much money on administrative costs and fundraising, with not enough going to people in need.

Charitynavigator.org is a great resource for this, with its reviews and rankings. CR says you can also check a charity’s website for information about its mission, a list of the board of directors and its latest financial reports. A professional fundraiser may keep most of the money you want to donate, so go directly to the charity site instead.

Here are more tips from the Better Business Bureau to avoid being scammed:

1. Watch out for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.

2. Review the website carefully. A responsible charity will include the following facts on its website: its mission and programs, measurable goals, and concrete criteria that describe its achievements. You should also be able to find information on their finances. Keep in mind, the type of work a charity does will affect its costs.

3. Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.

4. Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Instead of making an impulse decision based on emotion, do some research first to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.

5. Check with state charity officials. In many states, charities are required to register with the office of the attorney general before soliciting. Checking your state's appropriate office is an easy way to detect if an organization is legitimate or not. You can find this information on the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) website.

6. Avoid charities that don’t disclose. Although participation is voluntary, charities that don’t disclose any of the requested information to BBB WGA raise a critical red flag for donors. Visit Give.org to find out if your selected charity is nondisclosure.

7. Rely on standards-based evaluations. Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by agreeing to in-depth evaluations such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Get free access to charity reports at Give.org.

Copyright 2019 WGCL-TV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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