How to keep your money safe while donating this holiday season

Holidays

TAMPA. Fla. (WFLA) – Holiday season is a time when many of you extend the idea of giving to your favorite charities. 

In fact, about 20 percent of all charitable giving happens in December.  But how do you know which charity to choose?  8 On Your Side has some simple ways to make sure your money is doing the most good.

It’s a number that might surprise you. 

Last year Americans gave more than $292 billion dollars to charity.  And this includes many worthy organizations in Tampa Bay.  And during the holiday season, many of us feel even more charitable.

Whatever you wish to support, there’s a reason to research a specific charity before you donate.

“Some might spend too much money on administrative costs or fundraising expenses, while a few could be outright scams,” says Penny Wang with Consumer Reports.

Good charities are transparent and make it easy for you to learn about their values.

Look for the IRS form 990 — most larger charities are required to file it.

Accreditation by the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance requires charities spend at least 65-percent of their total expenses on charitable missions, and no more than 35-percent on fundraising.

And always be wary of unsolicited appeals, especially on social media.

“If you’re contacted by a professional fundraiser, you might consider giving directly to a charity instead. The fundraiser might keep 75 to 90 percent of the money,” says Wang.

Also be wary for sound-alike charities, as they might be trading off the reputation of a recognized charity but don’t meet the wise giving standards.  You can visit CharityNavigator.org or CharityWatch.org for reviews and rankings so you can feel confident you are picking a worthy group.

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