In advance of Giving Tuesday, Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) and Better Business Bureau® of Minnesota and North Dakota (BBB) urge consumers and businesses to use caution when deciding whether or not to support charities that do not disclose requested information to the Wise Giving Alliance. Charities that fail to disclose financial data and information pertaining to their day-to-day operations should be a “red flag” for donors. This advice is particularly important as we approach Giving Tuesday, which has been designated as a global day dedicated to giving back, and takes place Tuesday, November 28.
“It’s nearly impossible to honestly evaluate charities that don’t disclose operational data – for whatever reason,” said Susan Adams Loyd, President and CEO of BBB of Minnesota and North Dakota. “It’s all the more important for potential donors to ask even more questions of such charities, or to simply focus their attention on charities that do disclose operational data.”
BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance regularly sends nationally-soliciting charities requests to disclose details of their operations that address charity governance, results reporting, finances, fundraising, appeal accuracy and other issues. This is done in an effort to help donors make informed giving decisions. When a charity does not provide the requested information they are classified as nondisclosure. A BBB WGA nondisclosure report is a warning sign for donors to be cautious about donating their hard-earned dollars to charities that might be operating recklessly, inefficiently or even pocketing funds intended for deserving recipients.
Some points for donors to consider when evaluating a charity are:
- Ask for information about the charity, what it does, who it supports, and how. Request literature that documents these claims.
- If contacted by a professional fundraiser, contact the charity directly for information.
- Ask for specific information about the charity, such as name, address, and phone numbers.
- Contact the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, which regulates charitable organizations. In North Dakota, check with the Secretary of State’s office. Make sure the charity is properly registered to solicit funds in your state.
- Don’t be fooled. Many phony charities use names that closely resemble those of respected, legitimate organizations.
- Do not send or give cash donations. Cash can be lost or stolen. For security and tax record purposes, it’s best to pay by credit card.
Charities that choose not to participate in BBB’s charity review process may miss out on funds donors steer towards organizations that do provide requested governance data. Give.org has reports on charities, based not only on their finances, but also how well-run the charity is, its fundraising ethics and whether it assesses the effectiveness of its programs.
Started in 2012 by the 92nd Street Y in New York City and celebrated each year on the Tuesday following Thanksgiving, Giving Tuesday kicks off the charitable giving season. For more information on Giving Tuesday, visit givingtuesday.org/ or follow along on social media at #GivingTuesday. And for more fun facts and holiday shopping tips, visit bbb.org/council/holiday-helper.