BBB: ‘Tis the High Season for Giving to Charities - WBTV 3 News, Weather, Sports, and Traffic for Charlotte, NC

BBB: ‘Tis the High Season for Giving to Charities

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CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) -

As the final ‘giving' days of 2012 tick away, many local non-profit organizations hope you will contribute to their year-end giving campaigns.

If you make a contribution to your favorite charity by December 31, you can contribute to a good cause and you may also get a deduction on your 2012 income taxes.

If you are giving, the Better Business Bureau urges you to give wisely.

The BBB reviews charities against 20 Standards for Charity Accountability established by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance

United Way of Central Carolinas requires all charities that apply for funding from United Way be reviewed by the BBB and the organizations must meet all twenty standards.

Mecklenburg County also requires all charities that want to be included in the County's employee giving campaign be reviewed by the BBB and the organizations must meet all twenty standards.

"Transparency and accountability are two of the critical factors that donors consider when giving," said BBB President Tom Bartholomy.

Donors can check out a local charity on BBB Charlotte's website by clicking on the orange button labeled, check out a business or charity.

"Charities should be eager to provide you with information you need to make your charitable giving decisions," Bartholomy added. "If they are reluctant to disclose information, you should ask why."

The BBB has the following information on local charities listed on our website:

BBB:  10 Tips for Wise Giving

1.       Research before you give. Go to BBB to check out the Better Business Bureau's charity data, including budget information and whether a charity meets BBB Wise Giving Alliance's Standards for Charity Accountability.

2.       When in doubt, check it out. If you are unfamiliar with an organization that is soliciting donations, do not give without getting details about the charity first.

3.       Do not be fooled by low overhead claims. Some charities spend acceptable amounts on fundraising and administration, yet still fail to meet one or more of the BBB's twenty Standards for Charity Accountability.

4.       Get the charity's information. Ask for the charity's name, address, and written information on the charity's programs and finances.

5.       Watch out for cases of mistaken identity. Some charity names sound alike. Be careful that the one soliciting you is the one you have in mind.

6.       Know how much of your purchase goes to the charity. If something is being sold to benefit a charity, be wary of statements such as "all proceeds go to charity." Look for a disclosure that states exactly how much will go to the charity's programs.

7.       Watch out for charity fraud. Legitimate charities are transparent and willingly provide written information about their programs and finances.

8.       Give by check or credit card. Charitable contributions to tax-exempt organizations may be tax-deductible to you. When you give by check or credit card, you have proof of your donation when it's time to do your taxes.  Never be pressured into giving cash and never give via wire transfer.

9.      Just say no. If you get a call from an unfamiliar organization asking for a contribution over the telephone by credit card, just say no and hang up. You are not being rude. You are being careful. The caller could be calling you from anywhere in the world. The longer they keep you on the telephone, the more likely they will be to pressure you into giving. Once they have your credit card number, they could max out your credit limit within minutes.

10.   Hit delete. If you get an email from an unfamiliar organization asking for a contribution with a link to click on, do not click on the link. Instead, delete the email immediately. If you click on the link, you could unknowingly download viruses to your computer. Scammers send out millions of fake ‘phishing' emails every day to steal your personal information.

For more information about charitable giving, please visit the BBB.

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