The Better Business Bureau's Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips:
- Get the charity's exact name. With so many charities in existence, mistaken identity is a common problem.
- Resist pressure to give on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor. Take time to do your research first.
- Be wary of emotional appeals. What matters is not how tragic the problem is but what the charity is doing to help.
- Get specifics. If the charity says it's helping the homeless, for example, ask how and where it's working.
- Check websites for basic information. A charity's mission, program and finances should be available on its site. If not, check give.org.
- The N.C. Secretary of State's office licenses most charities or professional fundraising organizations operating in this state and keeps a searchable database of each organization's financial information Information also can be obtained by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling 888-830-4989.
- Don't assume that every soliciting organization is tax exempt. You can check an organization's tax status.