12/8/2012 10:01:00 PM Editorial: Don't let scammers mar giving season
Americans are a benevolent people. We give, give and give to worthy causes, whether it is an individual in dire straights because of illness or people in trouble because they are victims of a natural disaster of some kind.
But, please, charitable organizations, don't step on our generosity with phone calls that come at dinnertime, in the evening, on Saturday mornings when we are trying to relax, or on Sundays, which are usually quiet family days.
This time of year, charitable groups are out en masse seeking money, and understandably so, because the holidays bring out that spirit of giving in all of us.
But beware, kind people. The Better Business Bureau has published a Donor Bill of Rights, which is kind of a permission slip that should absolve benefactors of any guilt they might feel when they ask for information from an organization that is looking for contributions.
This bill of rights declares you can - and should - ask questions about an organization's mission, how it uses donated money, who serves on its governing board, whether donors can have their names deleted from lists that might be shared, and for the most recent financial statements. This Better Business Bureau guide also gives donors the right to know whether volunteers are soliciting for the organization or whether they are hired people and urges donors to ask questions about the organization with the expectation they will get straightforward, prompt and truthful answers.
Unfortunately, charity fraud exists, and it reaches a heightened pace this time of year.
The BBB reminds people of safeguards they should keep in mind, such as demanding identification from a solicitor, asking if contributions are tax-deductible and if the charity is licensed. Contributors should also not succumb to pressure to give money, watch out for statements, such as "all proceeds will go to the charity," and if a charity is selling a product to raise funds, ask how much of the proceeds will actually go to the charity.
Here are some more pointers: Don't give cash. Make out a check or money order to the charity and not an individual collecting the donation; be cautious when donating online; don't give credit card information to a telephone solicitor; and last, but very important, "Do not be fooled by names that look impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization," the BBB says.
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers sound information about charitable giving on its website, www.give.org, or people can call the local office at 772-3410 for reports on charities.
You might want to check out BBB reports on charities that solicit from the public.
Otherwise, the Grinch could creep into your wallet and put a damper on your Christmas.
Posted: Sunday, December 09, 2012
Article comment by:
For people of age, who often get few calls, a friendly voice is quite nice to hear.And as for all the questions we should ask of those soliciting donations, that's a big step for most of the aged. Your church, the Salvation Army and the Yavapai Humane Society can be counted on. Others beware.