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Better Business Bureau ®
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Eastern North Carolina
Guidelines for Giving Wisely to Charities
Guidelines for Giving Wisely to Charities

Charities are seeking contributions more than ever now due to ever-rising costs and demand for services. With the majority of the money raised by charities in this country coming from individuals, BBB offers the following advice to help donors make wise giving decisions:

Warning Signs

  • Sound-Alike Names: Don’t be fooled by names that sound impressive or that closely resemble the name of a well-known organization.
  • High-Pressure Tactics: Be wary if an on-the-spot donation is requested. A legitimate charity will welcome your donation as much tomorrow as they will today.
  • Emotional Appeals: Be cautious of vague appeals that offer gifts or base their appeal on a heart-breaking story, but are short on facts describing the charity’s services.
  • Cash Payment Requested: Always pay by check and never by cash, and be sure to make the check payable to the organization and not to the individual.
  • Unable to Provide Information: If the organization cannot provide you with information regarding their services, walk away. A legitimate organization will offer you a brochure detailing their services, or may direct you to their web site.

Tips for Giving Wisely

  • Confirm that the charity is an IRS 501(c)(3) entity by contacting the IRS.
  • If contacted by phone, ask for the organization’s address, phone number and a contact person so that you know where your money is going. Before sending any money, do your research to find out if the organization is legitimate.
  • Verify that the charity asking for donations is registered with the NC Secretary of State. Organizations are required to register here before asking for donations.
  • Keep records of your donations so you can document your charitable giving at tax time.
  • Check out the organization with BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance at bbb.org/charity.


Click here to download Guidelines for Giving Wisely to Charities flyer