Orlando: 10 Tips for Giving

You want to give. Here’s the smart way to do it.

“Tragedy inspires people to give. The best way to help the victims, their families, and the people of Orlando is to make sure that donations end up where they belong,” said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, the national charity monitoring arm of the Better Business Bureau.

“We urge those generous donors to give wisely so their gifts can do the most good.”

Here are the BBB Wise Giving Alliance’s 10 tips for giving:

1. Thoughtful giving. Take time to check out the charity to avoid wasting your generosity by donating to a questionable or poorly managed effort.

2. State government registration. About 40 of the 50 states require charities to register with a state government agency before they solicit for charitable gifts. In North Carolina, charities must be registered with the N.C. Secretary of State’s office.

3. Respecting victims and their families. Organizations raising funds should get permission from the families to use the names and/or photos of the victims.

4. How will donations be used? Watch out for vague appeals that don’t identify the intended use of funds. Also, see if the appeal identifies when the collected funds will be used.

5. What if a family sets up its own assistance fund? Be mindful that such funds may not be set up as charities. Make sure that monies are received and administered by a third party such as a bank, CPA or lawyer, to provide oversight and ensure the collected funds are used appropriately.

6. Advocacy organizations. You may receive requests from advocacy organizations that address gun use. Note that some of these advocacy groups are not tax-exempt as charities.

7. Online cautions. Never click on links to charities on unfamiliar websites or in texts or emails. These may take you to a lookalike website where you will be asked to provide personal financial information or to click on something that downloads harmful malware into your computer. Don’t assume that charity recommendations on Facebook, blogs or other social media have already been vetted.

8. Financial transparency. Transparent organizations will post an accounting of how funds were spent on their websites so that anyone can find out.

9. Newly created vs. established organizations. This is a personal choice, but an established charity will more likely have the experience to quickly address the circumstances and have a track record that can be evaluated. A newly-formed organization may be well meaning but will be difficult to check out and may not be well managed.

10. Tax deductibility. Not all organizations collecting funds are tax-exempt as charities under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code. Keep this in mind if you want to take a deduction for federal income tax purposes. Also, contributions that are donor-restricted to help a specific individual or family are not deductible as charitable donations, even if the recipient organization is a charity.

For more information, visit give.org.

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