BBB: Be wise when spreading holiday cheer

Posted at 10:55 AM, Dec 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-12-04 13:24:00-05

For many, one of the joys that comes with the holiday season is the opportunity to give. For con artists and scammers, that spirit is often seen as an opportunity to take. That is why it is important to make sure your hard-earned dollars are going to the right place.

The BBB Wise Giving Alliance (WGA) recently conducted a survey of 2,100 adults in the United States and found that of the respondents, 73% say it isvery important to trust a charity before giving to that cause. Only 19% say they highly trust charities, and many respondents preferred donating food and clothing over sending cash donations or volunteering.

The survey also found that when it comes to determining trust, most look at the accomplishments of a charitable organization before things like name recognition or celebrity endorsements.

Overall, it is important to research where your gift is going to be used, before deciding to donate. The Better Business Bureau suggests keeping the following in mind:

Watch out for name similarities: When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity, in order to avoid a case of mistaken identity.

Avoid on-the-spot donations from unfamiliar organizations: The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests from people stationed outside of public locations. Do not succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.

Be wary of emotional appeals: Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Always research to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.

Avoid charities that refuse to disclose: Although participation is voluntary, charities that do not disclose any of the requested information to BBB WGA raise a critical red flag for donors. Visit to find out if your selected charity is on the nondisclosure list.

Rely on standards-based evaluations: Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by agreeing to in-depth evaluations such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

Got a question for the BBB? Contact Regional Director Kelly Trevino at or call (361) 852-4991.