BBB Advises Checking Charities Out Before Making Year-End Gifts

November 25, 2013
Oakland, CA Nov. 25, 2013 – For many Americans, giving to charities is almost as important during the holidays as celebrating with family. Whether you celebrate or not, giving before Jan. 1 means that your gifts will be deductible on your 2013 tax return.

Better Business Bureau (BBB) has tips to help donors find deserving charities – and to make giving more effective as well as deductible.

Charities know that people are often in a generous mood during the holidays – or that they put off giving until their tax adviser suggests that it could reduce their tax bill in April. As a result, mailboxes often are stuffed with charitable solicitations as well as catalogs this time of year.

“Donors want to know that their money is being spent wisely when they give away some of their hard-earned money,” said Gene O’Neil, BBB President and CEO. “Our Charity Reviews can assure you whether or not that the charity complies with the BBB’s 20 Standards of Charity Accountability.
BBB has tips that increase your confidence that your donation will be used wisely:

• If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don't hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.

• Don't succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.

• Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that it has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal facts. (Secure sites’ addresses begin with https://.)

• When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.

• Before donating used items, make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and does more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.

• Be careful of Sound-a-Like charities. The holiday season is prime time for unethical individuals to take advantage of your giving spirit. Make sure you are donating to the right charity, not one you think sounds like a reputable charity.   

• If you don’t have the money to give to your favorite charity, consider donating your time.  Few charities will turn down someone willing to volunteer.  You can also advocate -   Aside from donating money and time, you can also help local charities by becoming a vocal advocate for its cause.  Word of mouth, social media, etc., are great ways to help promote the charity of your choice. 

The BBB urges donors to seek professional advice if they are in doubt about the deductibility of contributions.  Other helpful tips for making donations are posted on the BBB website ( The IRS Web site ( has information on the deductibility of donations on tax returns.

Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Reviews and BBB Charity Reviews by calling 703-276-0100.

Contacts (News Media Only): Lori Wilson, Chief Operating Officer, 510-844-2020


For more than 100 years, Better Business Bureau has been helping consumers find businesses, brands and charities they can trust. In 2012, consumers turned to BBB 124 million times for Business Reviews on more than 4.5 million companies and Charity Reports on 11,000 charities, all available for free at The BBB is an unbiased nonprofit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB Accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. The BBB provides objective advice, free BBB Reliability ReportsTM on businesses and BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM on charities, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, your BBB also offers dispute resolution services for consumers and businesses. The first BBB was founded in 1912. Today, 113 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada. Please visit for more information.