Among key issues is whether a charity is legitimate, and what percentage of donations are used for administrative expenses.
Connecticut Better Business Bureau President, Paulette Scarpetti, says some would-be charities are simply out to scam people.
“Connecticut consumers have received calls from people soliciting from fake ‘charities’
Your BBB recommends four important questions to consider before making a donation to a particular charity for the first time:
Is this a charity I can trust?
Look at the appeal carefully. Some charities’ names sound similar. Better Business Bureau recommends donors avoid being fooled by names that look impressive or closely resemble the name of a well-known organization. When in doubt, research the charity to ensure it is legitimate and permitted to solicit in Connecticut.
How will the charity use my donation?
Be wary of statements such as “all proceeds will go to the charity.”
This can mean that only the money left after expenses, such as the cost of promotional materials and fund raising efforts, will go to the charity. These expenses can be high, so check carefully.
Beware of appeals that bring tears to your eyes but reveal little about the kind of recipients or projects it describes so well. For example, if the charity says that it helps the homeless, does it explain how (shelter, food, medical care) and where this is taking place?
Do I feel pressured to donate?
Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot when solicited in a telephone call or online to pay by credit or debit card, or by allowing a “runner” to pick up a contribution. Take the time to fully research the charity. The organization that needs your donation today will welcome it just as much tomorrow.
Is my donation tax deductible?
If you want to make a charitable donation for federal income tax purposes, ensure it is tax-exempt as a charity under the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) code. A charity appeal will usually include a reference to this. Donors can verify tax-exempt status by accessing an IRS database of organizations by viewing publication 78 on the IRS Web site at www.irs.gov.
An excellent source of accountability information is available at the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance Web site at www.bbb.org/
More helpful tips and resources for donors is available at www.bbb.org.
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Founded in 1928, Connecticut BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. For more advice on finding companies and businesses, start your search with trust at www.bbb.org.