BBB Consumer Tip: Due Diligence Before you Donate!

June 26, 2008
Although timing is often critical in responding to the needs of charities, BBB advises that potential donors should not succumb to pressure in making an immediate donation without first checking out the organizations.

Some consumers have reported to BBB that they have received invoices thanking them “for your recent commitment,” despite no previous discussions taking place.  Also included may be a letter stating that a pledge form or invoice was sent out earlier to collect on the commitment amount, but since the charity received no response this second notice was sent out.

While this type of invoicing may be a mistake, unsuspecting donors may assume that they simply forgot pledging to the charity, despite not having heard of them before, and put a cheque in the mail.
“The large number of local and national charities actively soliciting for funds every day can make it hard for consumers to keep track of which is which,” explains BBB spokesperson Daniel MacDonald, “and that confusion can be exploited by unscrupulous organizations using generic or common-sounding names and vague descriptions of services.”

Charitable donations add up to big bucks in Alberta, with residents contributing more than $1.2 billion in 2006.

“BBB regularly fields calls from Albertans who have been solicited by charities, checking on their trustworthiness,” adds MacDonald.  “People’s generosity can sometimes make them a target for scams, so it pays to check first.”

Don’t hesitate to request written documentation from a charity, detailing the organization’s history, service and a breakdown of how funds are split between administration and the cause in question.  And be sure to check with your BBB for a BBB Reliability Report on any company.
For more information, see your BBB’s tips on wise giving here