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Check Charities Out With BBB Before Donating

A new BBB video offers tips on charitable donations, and our Wise Giving Guide offers information on 629 local charities.

Charitable giving is a big part of the holidays for many people. Offices and other groups may adopt families, and letters seeking donations are stuffing our mailboxes.

Charitable organizations know that people give more in the last three months of the year than at any other time.

But how do we choose charities to support, and how do we know that our money will do the most good? The Better Business Bureau makes no guarantees, but we are a resource that can help donors find charities that use their money wisely.

The BBB has been evaluating charities for most of its 100-year history. The St. Louis BBB uses standards developed by the national Wise Giving Alliance to evaluate local charities. Reports on more than 14,000 charities are available at our website, including 629 reviews of charities in eastern Missouri and Southern Illinois.

Just in time for the holidays, we have produced a video full of tips on charitable donations and a Wise Giving Guide that summarizes our review of 629 local charities, including 164 who have met all our standards and are BBB Accredited Charities.

Here are a few tips on making donations:

  • If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don't hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.
  • Don't succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.
  • Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that it has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal facts. (Secure sites’ addresses begin with https://.)
  • When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.
  • Before donating used items make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and does more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.

Keep up with BBB news on our website, or follow the BBB on Facebook or Twitter.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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