How to be Safe and Smart about Charitable Giving

Retiring Tina

How to be Safe and Smart about Charitable Giving

Dec 21, 2016

The sound of bells ringing in the air and little red kettles ... Marines in uniform asking for donations of toys … It’s the season of giving!  I’ve seen the boxes and bins all over town.  Donate toys here, food there and of course money lots of places!  The combination of a little snow, crisp, cool air nipping at my nose and the sweet sound of the bells takes me back to a time when most of my shopping involved taking along three little girls.  Although we didn’t have much in those days, we wanted our girls to learn the joy of giving.  Oh how they loved to run up to a Salvation Army Red Kettle and drop in a few coins!  Our introvert was sometimes a little shy about it, but still excited.  And there was no way I could drive past any volunteer standing out in the cold, or the heat in summertime,  without scrounging around my purse and car for whatever change we could come up with.  Oh, those were fun days! 

Today, Hubby and I feel we are truly blessed and we are thankful we had Afena to help us make wise financial decisions when we were young.  We enjoy giving, but wondered how we should chose who to donate to, and how do we know if our donations are going where they’re supposed to.  There are a lot of questions when it comes to making your donation count.

Many major charities have come under heavy fire in the last few years for their practices.  In the news you often hear about how much money the CEOs of certain charities make compared to what is actually donated, or about excessive amounts spent on advertising.  Sadly, charities for children, cancer patients and veterans are the most abused charities, which is heartbreaking. 

So I did my homework and researched my favorite charities along with a few others.  Thank you Google!  A wealth of information, right at our fingertips!  Do you remember those things called encyclopedias?  Encyclopedias are one of the reasons I love Google!  I remember when personal computers first became available.  Who would have guessed we would be carrying phones around with us all the time, and that the phone would have the capability of researching anything at any moment?  Remember George Jetson, his boy Elroy, daughter Judy, Jane, his wife – and Astro, everyone’s favorite space dog?  Although they had Rosie the robot maid, flying cars, and were jetting off to the moon, the Jetson’s quirky technological advances did not include cell phones!    Anyway, the best source of information I found was on the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance website.  They had a list of all kinds of charities, in alphabetical order, and all you have to do is pick a charity, click on it, and it will display various information about the charity.  I was able to verify that all the charities that I give to are legitimate. That makes me feel great when I give, and I know that I am making a difference!

Some other great websites that I found you can use are Charity Navigator, Charity Watch and Guide Star. These also can give you great information about all kinds of charities. Just make sure that you have the specific name of the charity that you are researching to be sure you get the most accurate and detailed information available. Of course you can always call the charity and ask them for the information.  If you ask and they are not forthcoming with the information, then you may want to reconsider giving to them.

A few other tips:

  • Keep detailed records of your donations
  • Never send cash through the mail
  • Never wire money unless it is to a trusted and well-researched charity

In dealing with any kind of charity always remember to never give out your personal information. With many charities you can make anonymous donations, so there is no need for them to have your information. The point of many of them getting this information is so that they can mail and call you for future donations. This can becoming very irritating quickly, and can often lead people to not want to donate!

Well, time to get ready to pick the grandchildren up.  Hubby and I are taking them shopping tonight so they can get some presents for their parents.  Hubby has already raided our “change bowl” to make sure he has plenty of change with him.  As we shop, Hubby will dole out the change to each of the little ones at the different stops with red kettles.  As we hear the sound of the bells ringing, each of the little ones will get a few coins to drop in the kettle.  Our joy will be in not only helping to teach them about giving, but also to see the twinkle in their eyes and the little smiles on their faces.  Yes, this is a great time of year!