Throughout November, Americans honor military veterans who served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to be careful when donating to charities that emphasize heartbreaking stories of disabled veterans.
There are many well-run, legitimate charities who do help veterans, but there are others that fail to live up to their promises to assist veterans in need. BBB has issued warnings about several charities that devoted more money to raising funds than helping veterans. Others weren’t willing to reveal how their funds were spent or the amount of assistance they offered.
BBB Scam Tracker received about 300 reports of charity scams in 2018. Of those, 22 dealt with veterans charities.
BBB Charity Reviews let donors know whether a charity has met BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, 20 standards designed to show a charity is transparent about its operations and fundraising and that it follows good governance practices. Charities that meet all 20 standards may qualify as BBB Accredited Charities.
BBB offers the following tips to potential donors:
• Learn all you can about a charity before contributing. Ask for printed documentation on how much of your contribution will be used for program services and how much will go for fundraising and management expenses.
• Whenever possible, donate directly to a charity and not through a fundraising telemarketer or a direct mail solicitation. That helps insure most of your contribution goes directly to the charity.
• Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.
• When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.
• Check with the BBB for a BBB Charity Review. For a charity to receive BBB accreditation, it must meet 20 Standards of Accountability covering everything from governance to fundraising.
Give, but give wisely by checking a charity’s BBB Charity Review at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.
Michelle Gleba is the Mid-Missouri regional director for Better Business Bureau.