The Better Business Bureau advises consumers to give, but give wisely to charities.
Your BBB offers the following tips when donating to charities:
• Do not give cash; always make contributions by check or credit card and make your check payable to the charity, not to the individual collecting the donation.
• Never donated to a charity you know nothing about. Check out the organization with the Better Business Bureau at www.bbb.org
• Don’t be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization.
• Don’t feel pressured into giving a donation and don’t be afraid to request additional information from the charity regarding its finances or programs.
• Keep records of your donations (receipts, canceled checks, and bank statements) so you can document your charitable giving at tax time. Although the value of your time as a volunteer is not deductible, out-of-pocket expenses (including transportation costs) directly related to your volunteer service to a charity are deductible.
• Be aware of claims that state “every penny will go to the charity.” All charities incur expenses. Make sure you know where you donation is going and who is benefiting from it; BBB/Wise Giving Alliance charity standards state that at least sixty-five percent of the organization’s total expenses should be spent on program activities. To see all twenty charity standards visit http://chicago.bbb.org/Charity-Standards/