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Resolve Not to Get Pressured by Scammers in 2015

PHOTO: Consumer advocates suggest if you want to get the most bang for your buck with your charitable donations in 2015, you should first do some homework. Credit: M. Clifford
PHOTO: Consumer advocates suggest if you want to get the most bang for your buck with your charitable donations in 2015, you should first do some homework. Credit: M. Clifford
January 5, 2015

HARTFORD, Conn. - Now that 2015 has arrived, some people are making decisions about how to get the most bang for their buck with their charitable contributions in the new year. Local advocates suggest you do some research before you donate.

Jackie MacKnight, director of community relations for the Connecticut Better Business Bureau, says to beware of callers who try to play off your emotions when seeking a donation. Similar caution is advised if someone is using high-pressure tactics to try to get you to make a donation.

"Responsible organizations and charities will welcome your gift of money tomorrow just as much as they would today, so they're not going to put that pressure on you and say, 'You have to give today. You have to give it to us right now.' That's generally a tactic that fraudsters would use," says MacKnight.

A study by the Better Business Bureau's charity arm, the Wise Giving Alliance, shows 46 percent of Americans base their choice of a charity by judging them by only their finances. MacKnight says that's a valuable indicator, but the BBB suggests you also consider other factors, such as whether they are transparent about their governance and are effective in accomplishing their mission.

MacKnight says you can investigate factors such as potential conflicts of interest, how much a charity spends to raise money, and 18 other standards for charity accountability at "give.org" which is part of the BBB's Wise Giving Alliance.

"Visit give.org to view charity reports, to look up a specific charity before you decide to give to them," says MacKnight. "Or to search for a charity if you are looking to give, you can find one that has chosen to operate relying on these 20 standards."

If you have a bad experience with a charity, or organization claiming to do charity work, you can also file a report at the give.org website. Reliable information on charities that choose not to participate in the BBB standards can also be found at other websites including charitynavigator.org.

Mike Clifford, Public News Service - CT