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How to check a charity before you donate

Before you donate, it's important to understand where your money is going.

INDIANAPOLIS — This year, Giving Tuesday is Tuesday, Nov. 30. It's a day to remind us that non-profits need help this time of year, too.

But before you donate, it's important to understand where your money is going.

The BBB's Give.org suggests the following:

  1. Watch out for mistaken identity
    As some charity names look similar, make sure the charity you are considering is the one you have in mind.
  2. Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations
    Typically, the holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.
  3. Be wary of overly emotional appeals
    If an appeal brings tears to your eyes, make sure it is also clear about what the charity intends to do to address the issues. Visit the charity's website for details about their program services.
  4. See if the charity is registered to solicit
    Check with your state government’s charity registration agency, usually a division of either the Attorney General’s office or Secretary of State’s office.
  5. Check BBB’s Give.org
    Rely on standards-based evaluations. Charities that are found to meet the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability are helping to demonstrate their trustworthiness.

Timothy Maniscalo with the BBB said Give.org breaks down the organization's oversight and what they do with their contributions.

"You can search and look at, hey, what percentage of their funds actually go to solicitation? You can look at things like who's on their board of directors, what are their executives paid, those types of things. So you can get that information," Maniscalo said.

Donors can also look up the charity or non-profit on the IRS' site and on the web site CharityNavigator.org.

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