Wondering how to help on Giving Tuesday? Here are some tips

  • With so many worthy causes out there -- along with plenty of scammers looking to take advantage of your generosity -- it can be hard to decide how and where to donate on Giving Tuesday.

    With so many worthy causes out there -- along with plenty of scammers looking to take advantage of your generosity -- it can be hard to decide how and where to donate on Giving Tuesday. Getty Images/iStockphoto

Updated 11/28/2022 6:25 PM

Since Giving Tuesday's formal launch in 2012, charitable organizations around the globe have received billions of dollars -- including a record $2.7 billion haul in 2021 -- from generous donors taking a break from holiday shopping to help the less fortunate.

But with hundreds of good causes out there, along with some not-so-good con artists looking to take advantage of others' kindness, how do you decide which causes to support and which to avoid?


Fortunately, there are several sources out there, from the Better Business Bureau to websites that track charities, that can help you decide if you choose to give Tuesday Here are some tips on how to go about researching charities, and how to avoid falling prey to scammers.

• Are you dealing with a legit charity? To find out, you can visit the IRS website at www.irs.gov/charities-and-nonprofits to search for a charity and learn whether it is a qualified tax-exempt organization under section 501(c)(3). You can do a similar search for Illinois-based organizations on the attorney general's website at charitableviewer.ilag.gov.

• So, the charity you're looking at is real, but you want to know that your donation is more likely to help others than pay for fundraising costs and administrator salaries. As a rule of thumb, look for a charity that dedicates less than 30% of its total spending to administration and fundraising expenses. To find information like that and other details about how charities spend, visit Charity Navigator at www.charitynavigator.org or Guidestar at www.guidestar.org.

• Does the charity you're considering have a solid reputation for doing good? Or is it rife with complaints about questionable practices? One place to find out is the Better Business Bureau, which accepts and tracks complaints about charities at its Wise Giving Alliance site, www.give.org.

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• Scammers know you're going to be in a giving mood, so be wary of any overly emotional appeal or effort to heighten your sense of urgency that may inhibit your rational judgment. Take your time and do your research.

• Avoid requests for unorthodox payment methods, like gift cards, prepaid credit cards, wire transfers, cash, cryptocurrency or peer-to-peer payment apps. Most credit cards offer some form of fraud protection, so stick to those when possible.

• If you receive a phone call from someone asking for a donation, don't let the caller rush you into anything. Ask where you can find additional information about the organization. If the caller won't provide that, hang up.

• Don't click on links or attachments in emails, text messages or social media posts from sources you don't know, and do not share information with senders you don't know.


• Watch for impostor websites and social media profiles. Some clues: A misspelled name of the charitable organization or the web address beginning with "http" rather than the secure "https."

• For more information about scams, or to report a possible scam, visit the Better Business Bureau Scam Tracker at www.bbb.org/scamtracker.

• If you're still unsure about how to help, you can always pitch in on the Daily Herald's Neighbors in Need campaign with the McCormick Foundation. The partnership is raising money to back organizations that address hunger, homelessness and health care disparities in the suburbs. The McCormick Foundation will contribute 50 cents for every dollar readers donate. To learn more or contribute, visit dailyherald.com/neighbors.

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