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Give wisely on Giving Tuesday

Giving Tuesday Logo Red White and BlueGiving Tuesday is a day for giving to charities and organizations.

It’s a reminder to help others as Americans spend, spend, spend for the holidays. While the goal of Giving Tuesday is great, you could miss the mark by not checking out charities to make sure you donate to worthwhile ones.

Take a look at these tips so that your Giving Tuesday donations go to effective organizations:

Give to organizations that you’re familiar with or that you’ve researched. Scammers are continually busy looking for ways to steal your money. Most states require that charities register, so check with the agency that registers charities to make sure the one you’re considering is registered and to see if any complaints have been filed against it.

Check it out. Find out the charity’s mission and whether your donation will be tax deductible. It’s a red flag if a charity won’t give you written information on its programs and finances.

Get the right charity. Scammers make up names that sound like familiar charities such as the American Cancer Association, United Way, or Habitat for Humanity.

Don’t be high-pressured into donating to fake charities. If you’re called about a charity you’ve never heard of, hang up. If you talk to the person calling, ask how much of donations the charity gets and how much goes to the telemarketer.

Don’t fall for emotional appeals. They distract you from learning if the charity is reliable.

Find out how charities spend their funds. Some charities spend half or more of the money they raise on fundraising efforts rather than programs. Most states prepare reports on charities that give this information. Also visit websites such as GuideStar, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator.

Don’t give cash. Write a check and make it out to the charity not a person.

Refuse to give out personal information. Don’t give charity solicitors your Social Security number at any time or a credit card number if you’re not familiar with the charity.

Donate securely. For an online contribution, look for secure websites with a https:// address rather than http://. If you’re going to send a text donation, call the charity or go to its website to find out if contributions by text message are accepted. A text solicitation might be a scam.

To file a complaint about a shady charity or scam, go to the website of the Attorney General’s Office in your state.

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