Teresa Fritz, with the Better Business Bureau, says to do some research before donating a dime. Fritz says the bureau evaluates many hundreds of charities at the website Give.org based on 20 different factors, with one of the biggest being accountability.
Fritz says, “We look to see if they are using their money wisely and that it’s going to actually run the organization and not just paying for the administration.” Many charities receive one-third of their annual donations during the holiday season, so these year-end gifts are important. Fritz says sometimes the names of organizations will sound alike, but their support is very different.
“Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity,” Fritz says. “Sometimes, charities that do not use their money wisely will try to have a similar name.” If you get a phone call from a charity you’re not familiar with, don’t give, especially if someone is pressuring you.
When you’re making a gift, she suggests plastic may have advantages over cash or a check. “We encourage people to use their credit cards, because you do have some assistance and safety with using your credit card,” she says. “If you would find out the organization is a scam, you can stop the donation on your credit card or stop a check, if you can talk to your bank right away.”
Anyone can access the Better Business Bureau’s Give.org website for free. It’s part of the Wise Giving Alliance.