October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, an annual campaign to increase awareness about the disease. Many businesses and consumers see it as an opportunity to donate or support a cause. To make sure donations go to the right place, Better Business Bureau advises consumers to research breast cancer product claims before making a purchase or getting caught up in the hype.
So, whether you are donating, shopping for “pink ribbon” merchandise or signing up to volunteer or participate in a walk or run, Better Business Bureau advises you to think before you go pink this month.
Sadly, scammers often take advantage of these moments of vulnerability to deceive donors. In addition, there are often campaigns set up by well-meaning individuals who may or may not be connected and they simply don’t know how to manage the funds.
Whether it’s Breast Cancer Awareness month, you are donating in your community, or wanting to help natural disaster victims BBB Wise Giving Alliance urges donors to give thoughtfully and avoid those seeking to take advantage of the generosity of others. Take the time to check out the charity to avoid wasting your generosity by donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort. The first request for a donation may not be the best choice.
Being proactive and finding trusted charities is the best way to go. You can do your research by visiting Give.org to verify if a charity meets the BBB Standards for Charitable Accountability.
Keep in mind that some crowdfunding sites do very little vetting of individuals who decide to post for assistance after a tragedy or a disaster, and it is often difficult for donors to verify the trustworthiness of crowdfunding requests for support.
About 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require charities to register with a state government agency (usually a division of the State Attorney General’s office) before they solicit for charitable gifts. If the charity is not registered, that may be a significant red flag.
Also watch out for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. For example, how will the donations help victims’ families? Also, unless told otherwise, donors will assume that funds collected quickly in the wake of a tragedy will be spent just as quickly. See if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used.
Be area to never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in text messages or email. These may take you to a look-alike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information, or may download harmful malware onto your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on social media have already been vetted.
This is a personal giving choice, but an established charity will more likely have the experience to quickly address the circumstances and have a track record that can be evaluated. A newly-formed organization may be well-meaning but will be difficult to check out and may not be well managed.
ABOUT BBB WISE GIVING ALLIANCE: BBB Wise Giving Alliance is a standards-based charity evaluator that seeks to verify the trustworthiness of nationally-soliciting charities by completing rigorous evaluations based on 20 holistic standards that address charity governance, effectiveness reporting, finances, fund raising, appeal accuracy, and other issues. Learn more about the 20 BBB Charity Standards and about local charity review at local Better Business Bureaus at Give.org.
Jeremy Johnson is the Eastern Idaho Marketplace Manager for the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific. Contact the BBB at 208-342-4649 or email to firstname.lastname@example.org.