As we approach the Holidays and the end of the year, many of us start looking for charitable causes to support. We are presented with opportunities through the mail, through word of mouth, and even through Social Media! But, how do you know that the Charity you wish to support is going to use your donation in a fiscally and morally responsible way?
Do a Background Check
Screening your prospective charity is a very important step to take before you decide to give. Organizations such as Charity Watch, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance, and Charity Navigator are watchdogs that keep an eye out for scammers.
Watch for Warning Signs
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) details out things to watch for before you donate to a charity. Here are just a few:
- The organization will not give you a transparent look into how they are spending the funds that are being donated.
- Request cash to be immediately collected (and won’t accept checks).
- Refusal to provide a call back number.
Ask Friends and Community Members for Suggestions
Since Charity scammers tend to ramp up this time of year, getting suggestions from a trusted source might be the way to go! Friends, family, and neighbors all have different areas of service that they’ve been involved in, so asking around might expand your circle of charitable opportunities.
Be Charitable with your Everyday Purchases
When shopping for clothing, shoes, sunglasses, and gifts, seek out one for one or fair trade organizations. Places like TOMS offer what’s called a “one for one” giving opportunity. For every purchase you make, they give something to someone in need. So, not only do you get to buy a quality present for someone on your list, you also know that your purchase is going to support a good cause. You can also seek to purchase fair trade items. To qualify to be a Certified Fair Trade good, it must be produced in a way that meets rigorous social and environmental standards, and in addition, pays the producer a fair wage.
Stick with the Basics
If you’re still a little undecided about choosing a charity this year, you can always go with the basics. You can’t go wrong supporting your local Children’s Hospital, well-known relief organizations or veteran’s organizations. The Salvation Army Toy Drive each fall is also a great one to support! You can even get out and serve with your hands and feet by feeding a holiday meal at a shelter, delivering meals to shut-ins, or singing carols at a local nursing home.
Choosing a charity to support shouldn’t be a stressful ordeal, if you take a few steps to ensure you are supporting a quality, trusted organization. Your friends at Houston Highway encourage you to go out and do good this holiday season!