Many of us have big hearts this time of year, and want to help those who are less fortunate. But, how do you know if your donation is going to be used appropriately? Whether donating to a major charity or to an individual in need, it is a good idea to ask questions and check things out.
If you get a phone call or solicitation by mail or e-mail, check things out before you click on links, send money or provide personal information. Do a search with sources like Charity Navigator, GuideStar, Charity Watch, or the BBB Wise Giving Alliance. These sources can verify if a charity is legitimate, how donations are allocated, and the correct contact information.
If you want to help a local charity, contact them first to find out what they need. Although you may be interested in volunteering or donating toys, clothes, or other items, sometimes they are unable to accommodate your form of generosity.
If you are donating to a specific person or family, it is also a good idea to check with a trusted source to verify their needs.
There are a lot good people and organizations that are in need of help this time of year. But, make sure that your donations are going to legitimate people and causes.