Donating Early, Often, and Safely on Giving Tuesday and Beyond

Giving Tuesday Hashtag LogoOn this day in 2012, the 92nd Street Y, a cultural and community center in New York City, created the first Giving Tuesday (sometimes referred to with the hashtag #GivingTuesday). The event was designed to be “a global day of giving fueled by the power of social media and collaboration.” Designated on the Tuesday following the celebration of Thanksgiving in the United States, the day aims to kick off the charitable giving season, when so many of us are focusing on holiday and end-of-year charitable donations.

There are so many other ways that you can reach out in your community beyond giving money.

  • Give Your Voice – Ask a group of your choice directly what you can do to help, whether it’s through a donation, volunteering, serving on their board of directors, or anything else.

  • Give Your Time – Volunteer with nonprofit organizations, groups in your community, schools, or wherever you are needed. Pick a place, and see what you can do.

  • Give Pro Bono – You can use your unique skills to help nonprofit organizations in ways that simple financial donations may not be able to. Research groups with whom your place of business works.

  • Give Part of Your Paycheck – Of course, we’ll talk more about financial donations in a moment, but many organizations are allowing employees to donate a portion of their paychecks to designated charities, such as the United Way, or any of a number of local groups. You can also discuss with your human resources team what can be done to integrate this option as a policy at your workplace.

When most people think of charity, they think of giving money to nonprofit organizations with wonderful goals to benefit the community.

Unfortunately, there are those unscrupulous individuals who would seek to take advantage of our charitable tendencies for their own gain. So, with that in mind, we wanted to take a moment and offer four tips for safe charitable giving now and every season.

1. Know the Organization

  • Some quick research can reveal any number of telltale signs of a charity scam. The Federal Trade Commission has identified several potential signs of charity scams. If an organization you’re intending to give to displays any of these signs, it should be a red flag that signals a need for further investigation.

2. Use Caution When Donating Online

  • Online giving is a fantastic resource, allowing many smaller organizations to reach out directly to potential donors. Myriad non-profit groups in the West Michigan area and beyond are able to accept donations and fundraise from people they otherwise would not have the capacity to reach.

    If you’re giving online, then the same rules for keeping your money and personal information safe apply here as well: Know who you’re giving to, make sure it’s a secure website (look for the lock in the corner, and HTTPS in the URL), avoid public wi-fi where possible, or use a VPN to mask your presence, and be aware of what information you’re sharing.

3. Be Aware of Your Personal Information, and Considerate of Your Privacy

  • When it comes to your information, Consumer Reports also points out that if you’re giving to charities, you should peruse their privacy policy, to ensure that your name and/or contact information will not be sold, or otherwise exchanged with any other organizations. You can also request that you not receive any further appeal letters or other solicitations from the organization.

4. Give Directly When You Can

  • Charity Watch—a watchdog group originally founded as the American Institute of Philanthropy—also advises that you give directly to the organizations whenever possible. Some groups use third-party websites when they cannot themselves process online donations, and these can sometimes charge transaction fees to you as well as additional fees for the charity itself, which can lessen the overall impact of the donations. Charity Watch also offers more tips here.

This year, Giving Tuesday reports that over $300 million has been raised online for charities in over 150 countries. Hundreds of millions of dollars have also been donated in person, through the mail, over the phone, and a variety of other ways.

For our part, the Arbor Financial Caring Committee has donated nearly $7,000 to charities across West Michigan in 2018, like Ministry With Community, the American Heart Association, Eleanor’s Pantry, Silvia’s Place, and more, through a variety of fundraisers within the branch locations, as well as non-monetary donations like food drives, and more.

We’re proud of our giving in the community, and we want to help enable you to do so as well. GIving Tuesday offers a list of some legitimate charitable organizations, sortable by your location. To check out the list, click here.

You can also find a list of reputable national organization provided by Consumer Reports by clicking here.

There are other organizations who are not on these lists, but do great work in their community, so do your research, know to whom you are giving, and give generously this holiday season, and all year round.

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