BBB advises ways to wisely donate

Photo by Heather Middleton

Photo by Heather Middleton

By Maria-Jose Subiria


The holidays are over, but that doesn't stop individuals from donating to charities.

Due to advanced technology and innovative charities, people have a variety of options at their fingertips for giving, according to Fred Elsberry Jr., president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) Serving Metro Atlanta, Athens & Northeast Georgia, Inc.

According to the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, how people donate is just as important as what they donate, added Elsberry. The BBB Wise Giving Alliance reports on more than 1,200 national charitable organizations at the bureau's web site, www.bbb.org/charity, and determines whether they meet 20 accountability standards, which address governance, finances and fund-raising practices, he said.

"Despite the downturn in the economy, people are still looking for creative, or small ways, that they can give back and support those who are even less fortunate...however you decide to give, it's important to stop and take the time to research the charity thoroughly, to make sure that your dollar stretches the farthest it can in this tough economy," he said.

Many charities have been successful in obtaining donations through business partnerships, according to the president and CEO.

Through these partnerships, some businesses agree to donate an amount of the purchase price from sales items, to the charity, said Elsberry. This "cause-related" marketing allows the consumer to donate while shopping. Consumers should check whether the promotion identifies the actual, or the expected amount the organization will receive, he said.

"Also some businesses, like grocery stores, ask if you want to donate to a charity, and have that amount added to your receipt, which is called embedded giving," said Elsberry. "See if the embedded promotion states which specific charity will receive the collected funds."

Using a credit or debit card to donate online is one of the most efficient ways to support a charity, he said. Before entering the card's account number online, research the web site, its privacy policy, and verify whether the charity provides the security needed to protect such transactions, he explained.

Donating via text messaging is another giving method people can use.

Elsberry said this option became popular after a magnitude 7 earthquake hit Haiti last year. Shortly after the disaster happened people began donating using this avenue.

Using this technology, one can donate by texting a message to a number on their cellular phone, he said. The donation amount will be included in the cell phone user's phone bill, he explained.

"While donating via text is fast and easy for the donor, the actual money can take months to reach the charity so consider donating directly to a charity through its web site if there is an urgent need," advised Elsberry.

Also, many non-profit organizations solicit for items that people can give away, including coats, toys and canned goods, said Elsberry. Donors need to assure the items are in good condition, and that those items are actually things the charity is requesting or accepting, he said.

Another way to donate, is by giving time to a charity, said Elsberry. Individuals can volunteer, be a vocal supporter, and help raise awareness of the cause to friends and families, as well as, on one's Facebook page or blog, he said.

"In today's tight economy, you may not have money, but you can always give a little bit of your time to help support a worthy cause," said Elsberry.