Non-profit urges consumers to be wary of fake charities this holiday season

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The non-profit, Better Business Bureau, is warning donors of fake charities this Giving Tuesday.

Giving Tuesday is the first Tuesday following Thanksgiving and arose as a means of encouraging donors to give to charities for the holiday season.

“Donors want to know that their money is being spent wisely,” Melanie Duquesnel, BBB President & CEO said.  “This time of year, so many fake charities and crowd funding sites pop up, preying on the giving nature of the season. That’s why it’s so important to do your research.” 

The Eastern Michigan and Upper Peninsula-based non-profit’s work is based on promoting trust in the marketplace by assisting in the protection of consumers and businesses from fraud and unethical business practices.

BBB has screened more than 5.3 million companies and compiled more than 11,000 charity reviews. To vet a charity before you donate, check online at bbb.org or give.org.

When BBB analyzes the validity of a charity, it looks beyond finances and overhead. BBB also looks into a charity’s governance, effectiveness and fundraising practices and holds them to BBB standards. If a charity meets all 20 BBB standards, BBB will offer it BBB Accreditation and use of BBB’s seal. 

BBB also has tips that increase your confidence that your donation will be used wisely: 

  • 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 given 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 being 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 could do more harm than good.  You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity. 

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