February is Black History month, a time when we celebrate the achievements in African-American history. While many people embrace this celebration, scammers use it as a time to engage in false fundraising events.
Your Better Business Bureau encourages you to do your homework and then give wisely.
There are many great causes to support. A fundraiser is an event or campaign with the purpose of raising money for a cause, charity or nonprofit organization. According to research done by TicketPrinting.com, a great fundraiser contains three key elements: a community gathering for a good cause; desirable prizes or events in exchange for donations; and simplicity and ease of contributing to the cause. Last year, more than 54,000 inquiries were recorded about fundraising organizations with your BBB nationally.
When looking for a reputable fundraiser, your BBB offers these tips:
• Don’t be pressured into giving. Be wary if a so-called fundraiser contacts you first. Remember, a reputable fundraising organization will give you time to make an informed decision.
• Ask questions. An organization with nothing to hide will be happy to answer them.
• Never give out personal information, such as social security numbers, bank or financial information.
• Be wary when making online donations. Be sure the URL starts with https:// and look for the padlock symbol.
• Do research online to better understand programs involving fundraising.
• Avoid unknown fundraisers. Watch out for ones with similar names to a well-known fundraising organizations.
• Be especially careful after a disaster or tragedy. Con artists will strike while the emotional iron is hot.
• Beware of fraudulent phone appeals offering sweepstakes opportunities, particularly if the solicitor requests a donation to claim a prize, which is illegal.
Remember, don’t assume your donation or gift is tax deductible. If you’re funding a project run by an individual instead of a charity, the funding you provide may not be deductible as a charitable gift for federal income tax purposes. Fundraisers do amazing things for millions of people every year. Unfortunately, scammers take advantage of good-hearted people, as well as those needing the assistance.
To check out fundraisers or charities you’re considering donating to or for a list of BBB Accredited ones, visit www.bbb.org or call (937) 222-5825 or (800) 776-5301.
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John North is president of the Dayton Better Business Bureau.