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Don't Let Thieves Nab Your Giving Tuesday Contributions

In a new BBB survey, 70% of respondents said trust in a charity is essential prior to donating. (AdobeStock)
In a new BBB survey, 70% of respondents said trust in a charity is essential prior to donating. (AdobeStock)
December 3, 2019

LANSING, Mich. — Be generous with your pocketbook, but also be wise - that's the advice of the Michigan Attorney General's Office on Giving Tuesday.

Spokeswoman Kelly Rossman-McKinney said while charities use the annual observance to seek support from donors, scammers also may be trying to compete for contributions.

"You like to think the best of people, but people who are making a living scamming good people out of their money they have no scruples,” Rossman-McKinney said. “People should have a real healthy dose of skepticism when they are thinking about donating their money."

Technological advancements are providing increasingly convenient ways to donate to a good cause with just the touch of a button. However, Rossman-McKinney said scammers also can use the same social-media platforms, crowdfunding sites and giving portals. So she recommends researching a charity to ensure it is legitimate.

Charities can be verified online through the Michigan Attorney General's website, as well as the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, and IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search.

According to the Better Business Bureau, about 65% of Americans don't investigate where their money is going prior to donating to charity. Rossman-McKinney said it's important to know just how much of your donation will go specifically to a cause.

"There are a lot of charities and public-safety organizations that hire professional solicitors who are paid specifically to get you to give money via telemarketing,” she said. “And some of these solicitors actually keep about 90% of the donations themselves."

Only 19% of people in a new survey by the BBB's said they highly trust charities - something 70% said is essential before giving. Bennett Weiner, chief operating officer with the BBB's Wise Giving Alliance, said hopefully organizations will take note, and use the information to strengthen their trustworthiness with the giving public.

"People respond very well to organizations that focus on their accomplishments,” Weiner said. “And if charities included that type of information on their websites and in their appeals, there's a good chance that they may be able to generate increased trust from the donating public."

According to the survey, optimism that a charity could be trusted rose 14% in 2018, compared with a 10% increase in 2017.

Mary Schuermann Kuhlman, Public News Service - MI