Whether providing aid after natural disasters or assisting a neighbor in need, consumers want to say "yes" when someone knocks on the door seeking help. 65 percent of households in the U.S. donate to charities, according to The Center on Philanthropy at Indiana University.
There are 1.2 million charitable organizations in the nation, according to Give USA 2010. Sadly, scammers rely on this abundance to deceive philanthropists.
Door-to-door charitable solicitations increase in summer months; BBB reminds consumers that while many are legitimate, some are schemes in disguise:
- Providing for Protectors: It's nearly impossible to say "no" to solicitors for police, fireman or veterans associations; scammers often use those who serve and protect to entice donors. Confirm affiliation with your local veterans, firefighters or police organizations.
- Helping Kids: Often under the guise of "job training," young adults sell magazine subscriptions or other items, as they strive towards trips, prizes or better futures. If interested, ask for written details and proof of program participation, get all refund and return policies, and research the company on your own.
Better Business Bureau serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington gives the tools necessary to build a wise giving community:
Take time to ask questions. How much money goes to the cause? Can I get the organization contact information and think about it? Is the charity a registered 501(c)(3) organization?
Check first. Ask solicitors for identification; most charities provide workers with badges or business cards. Using trusted directory information, contact the charity directly to verify their employment or volunteer status.
Make a plan. Choose a charity before it chooses you. Consider selecting organizations to support before doing a monthly or annual budget. Before donating, review bbb.org/us/charity for free BBB Charity Reviews.
Don't donate cash. Make sure checks are written to the organization, not the individual knocking on the door. Ask for a receipt for tax purposes.
For more charity savviness, visit bbb.org.