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
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
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
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
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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