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Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
8 December 1999 Issue

Making Your Donation Count
By SavingLife@aol.comX

As the holidays arrive, so do the Christmas trees, cookies, mistletoe, and gift wrapping. What you also commonly see around this time of year is an influx in the number of nonprofit organizations asking for your financial support. This is the time of year where "goodwill towards all" is the motto and let's face it, non-profit organizations know that this is the time to take advantage of our "holiday spirit."

The majority of charities are completely honest. Unfortunately, as we have seen time and time again in the news, there is always those few organizations that steal millions of dollars from trusting, hardworking individuals, only to pocket the money for their own selfish reasons. It is this small percentage of irresponsible, illegitimate organizations that force us to become weary as to who we give your money to. The following hints will help you decide whether or not an organization truly deserves your financial support.

1. KNOW YOUR CHARITY:
If you know nothing about a charity, do not give them any of your money until you have received written literature and answers to all of your questions. If the charity is truly honest, they will not only openly answer all requests you have, but they will actually encourage you to inquire about their operations.

2. KNOW WHERE AND HOW YOUR MONEY IS BEING SPENT:
Find out from the organization what percentage of each of your dollars is going to fund raising, administrative expenses, and exactly how much actually goes to the cause that you are willing to support. By law, nonprofit organizations are required to disclose this information to you, if you ask.

3. DO NOT LET YOURSELF BE PRESSURED INTO DONATING:
Do not let an organization make you feel pressured into giving money and do not feel like you have to give them money right then and there. If the organization is truly legitimate, they would never expect you to immediately hand over your hard earned dollars.

4. ASK FOR IDENTIFICATION:
When approached by a solicitor, always ask to see identification. A legitimate solicitor should always have the appropriate credentials on their person and should be more than willing to share them with you.

5. BEWARE OF THE SOB STORY:
When presented with the tear-jerker approach, do not automatically give in and allow yourself to be overcome by the organization's tales of woe. This particular approach is an old time favorite of the illegitimate organization, especially during the holiday season when our goodwill is at an all time high.

6. DO NOT BE FOOLED BY NAMES:
Most illegitimate non-profits often possess impressive names, sometimes even adopting ones that are very similar to that of a known and respected organization. Listen clearly and do not allow yourself to be mislead by the name of the group.

7. PHONE CONTRIBUTIONS:
Never, ever donate money over the telephone. Always request written literature to be sent to your home before you agree to make a financial commitment.

8. MAIL SOLICITATION:
Sometimes you will receive solicitations in the mail that are accompanied by some sort of small gift, which you are told you may keep as long as you contribute a certain dollar amount to the organization. However, federal law provides that, unless you specifically requested the item in question, it is yours to keep even if you do not make a contribution. Do not let the organization make you feel as though you owe them something.

9. ENSURE THE PROPER REGISTRATION OF THE ORGANIZATION:
Before you hand over your money, make sure the nonprofit is registered with the Bureau of Charitable Organizations.

10. ONCE THE DECISION IS MADE:
After you have researched and found that you have been approached by a legitimate organization that you would like to support, give generously. The many good charities that are out there are working hard for their cause and they need all the help they can get in order to operate their programs effectively.

Volunteers, the guidelines apply to you as well. Not only do you want to ensure that the organization you are donating your time and effort to is worthy of such, but if you are going to encourage others to support your organization, you want to make sure that it is legitimate and trustworthy.

It is always good to remain skeptical. Every dollar that is donated to a bad organization is one that is taken away from a good, legitimate nonprofit group with a wonderful cause. The fact of the matter is, there are more good groups out there than there are bad, but it never hurts to keep your pocket book safe and give your dollars to those organizations with the strongest backgrounds.

Also, do not forget your animal friends this time of year! Avoid donating to organizations that test on animals or exploit animals in any other way. Also, consider donating to a local animal shelter or another animal-rights related organization. Many people still insist on buying animals as Christmas presents, only to quickly abandon them to the streets or shelters. Considering donating money and/or time to those organizations that work so hard to protect the voiceless, defenseless creatures that are all too often forgotten about at this busy, hectic time of year. Still, do not forget to follow the guidelines above.

Go on to Holiday Gift Ideas For Animal Rights Activists and the People They Love
Return to 8 December 1999 Issue
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