(Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images)

We have Black Friday, Small Business Saturday, Cyber Monday and Giving Tuesday and if you want to give, make sure you donate safe.

This time of year, it’s all about the spending. The gifts, the decor, the food..but it’s also a good time to donate money to causes you care about.

According to the Better Business Bureau, since 2012, Giving Tuesday has helped raise more than $1 billion for charity. But any time you’re giving money to anyone, you want to make sure it’s going to the right place. And of course, because a lot of charitable giving is done online, the scammers will be looking for their next victim.

The BBB has set up a website specifically to combat this problem. You can visit give.org and type in the name of a charity and it will pull up info to show it’s legitimacy. For example, I searched American Red Cross. Not only did the website show that it is a BBB Accredited Charity, but also information like their purpose, programs, fundraising, etc.

Art Taylor is the president and CEO of BBB WGA. He said “The evaluations we provide give donors insight into charity trustworthiness, helping them make wiser giving decisions. Holiday donations can make a real impact. Therefore, it’s critical that donors’ hard-earned dollars go to charities that operate ethically.”

Tips to Donate Safe on Giving Tuesday:

  • Watch Out for Name Similarities

    When charities support the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you donate, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to make sure your money goes where it’s intended to

  • Review the Website Carefully

    A responsible charity will include its mission and programs, goals, finances and criteria that describe its achievements on its website.

  • Avoid On-the-Spot Donation Decisions

    At this time of year especially, there’s more people outside public locations looking for donations. Don’t feel pressured to make an immediate decision to give them money. Responsible charities will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.

  • Be Wary of Emotional Appeals

    Unfortunately marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Instead of making an impulse decision when they tug at your heart strings, do some research first to verify your selected charity. 

  • Check with State Charity Officials

    In Florida, you can find out if the organization is legitimate or not by using the check-a-charity tool on the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services website. 

  • Rely on Standards-Based Evaluations

    As mentioned in the article above, you can get access to charity reports at Give.org

  • Research Tax Status

    Don’t assume every charitable organization claiming to do good is a tax-exempt charity. You can check their tax status with the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Also, make sure your contribution is tax deductible. 

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