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Better Business Bureau CT

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Check Out Charities Before Donating

Your BBB Connecticut Can Help You Find Out the Reliability and Transparency of Your Favorite Charitable Organization.

Wallingford, CT, March 20, 2008 --( English historian Thomas Fuller once said “Charity begins at home, but should not end there.” The world was a simpler place when he penned those words, and today your Better Business Bureau warns that donations to charities should begin with a background check of the charitable organization with your Better Business Bureau.

BBB wants donors to know that a significant number of charities contacted last year failed to disclose information necessary for evaluation.

Connecticut Better Business Bureau President Paulette Hotton, explains “Charities have an obligation to be open and transparent to allow the public to make informed decisions when donating money.” Hotton says however, “Failure to disclose doesn’t necessarily mean the charity is unethical or hiding something, however it should raise a red flag for potential donors if a charity is holding back information and not being up front.”

Better Business Bureaus evaluate performance of local charities on 20 standards, including fundraising, finances, governance and oversight and the organization’s efforts to measure its effectiveness. BBB digs deep to find out more than just tax filings and what percentage of donations go towards overhead.

“About 70 percent of Americans find it difficult to tell whether a charitable solicitation is legitimate, operates with integrity and actually does the kind of work it says it does,” Hotton added.

Your Connecticut Better Business Bureau offers the following tips for charitable donors:

1. Always check out charitable organizations (and companies) on the Better Business Bureau web site (, which should provide with you a report on the charity, whether it meets BBB charity criteria and if not, why.

2. Don’t be fooled by low overhead claims. While many charities spend acceptable amounts of money on fundraising and administration, they may still may fail to meet one or two standards for accountability.

3. Watch out for “mistaken identity.” With more than a million charities operating in the U.S., many names sound similar.

4. Know how your contribution helps the charity. If something is being sold to benefit a charity watch out for vague statements such as “All proceeds go to charity projects.” Look for a disclosure that indicates the actual or estimated amount of the purchase price the charity will receive to fund its programs.

5. Beware of charity fraud. Legitimate charities do not demand donations; they willingly provide written information about their programs, finances or how donations are used, and the never insist you provide your credit card number, bank account or any other personal information.

Hotton summarizes, “Although charities are non-for-profit, they still are businesses and donors are entitled to the same transparency as anywhere else in the marketplace.”

Contact Information
Better Business Bureau CT
Howard Schwartz
203-279-2700 ext. 103

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