Better Business Bureau offers charity report

December 20, 2012 3:48:32 AM PST
As the holidays approach many people would like to help others in need and spread good will by donating to charity. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) offers a just published listing of 426 reports on charities in Chicago and Northern Illinois which is available to prospective donors at no charge.

Donors can receive a pdf listing of these charity reports and evaluation results by e-mailing ncastle@chicago.bbb.org or calling Nina Castle at 312-245-2516. She can also respond to requests for reports on individual charities. The listing and individual charity reports are also shown on www.bbb.org

The BBB's Charitable Review Program is designed to empower donors to make wise giving decisions and encourage local charitable organizations to accept the responsibility of self regulation by adhering to a set of 20 charity standards. The charity standards http://www.bbb.org/us/standards-for-charity-accountability/ are available and promote public accountability, responsible use of funds, proper solicitation and governance practices.

"It is extremely important to maximize the impact that holiday donations make by avoiding common giving mistakes," said Steve J. Bernas, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Chicago and Northern Illinois. "A smart donor takes a hard look at a charity's programs, finances and governance before making a donation. Most charities have the best of intentions but not all meet standards or spend donations wisely."

The BBB recommends that donors avoid these common mistakes when donating to a charity this holiday:

Research the charity before you give. Even good friends may not have fully researched the charities they endorse, so don't just take their word for it; expertise is available. Go to bbb.org/charity http://chicago.bbb.org/ to verify that a charity meets the BBB's 20 Standards for Charity Accountability

Do not be influenced by high-pressure or emotional appeals. Giving on the spot is never necessary, no matter how hard a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor pushes it. The charity that needs your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow..

Make sure you know the charity's correct identity. With so many charities in existence, their names can blur in a donor's mind and similar-sounding organizations are common. Be sure you know which charity you're supporting and that it's not a case of mistaken identity.

Do not assume charities can use donated household items and clothing. Worn out, unusable or unwanted donated goods cost charities millions of dollars each year because the organization has to bear the cost of discarding the unacceptable donation. If you have questions about an item's acceptability, call the charity and ask.

"Low overhead" expenses should not be the only factor you consider. How much money a charity spends on the actual cause-as compared to how much goes toward fundraising and administration-is an important factor, but it's not the whole story. A charity with impressive financial ratios could have other significant problems such as insufficient transparency, inadequate board activity and inaccurate appeals. For more consumer tips, visit www.bbb.org


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