For Immediate Release - December 13, 2005

MA Consumer Affairs Director Endorses BBB's Check Out a Charity Program

MA Consumer Affairs Director Endorses BBB's Check Out a Charity Program

NATICK, MA - The Better Business Bureau, Inc, serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont announced today its Check out a Charity educational campaign. The campaign encourages consumers and companies to Give But Give Wisely ™ by checking out a charity's report with the BBB before donating.

"The BBB encourages families to give with their heads as well as their hearts this holiday season to help ensure that their generosity is being used appropriately by charitable organizations," said Kevin J. Sanders, president & CEO of the Better Business Bureau, Inc. serving Eastern MA, ME & VT. "We hope that the following tips will help donors give wisely and avoid being taken. We are also pleased to announce that the Bureau will be strengthening its charity reporting activities and launching a program that will evaluate charities in relation to a set of comprehensive accountability standards."

To help the public "Give But Give Wisely ™," the BBB advises donors to consider the following:

  1. Watch out for cases of mistaken identify. Some charities may have similar sounding names since they are raising funds for similar causes. Make sure the organization soliciting you is the one you have in mind.
  2. Watch out for overly emotional appeals that bring tears to your eyes but say little about what the charity intends to do to address the problem it describes so well.
  3. Watch out for excessive pressure in fund raising. Accountable charities will be happy to accept your donation at a later date after you have had time to find out more about their work.
  4. Do not give out your credit card number or other personal financial information to unknown telephone solicitors. If interested, ask the caller to send you written information about their programs and finances.
  5. See if the appeal includes a reference to the organizations charitable tax -exempt status. Many types of organizations solicit for money this time of year. Not all of them are charities.

Massachusetts Consumer Affairs Director Beth Lindstrom endorsed the BBB's Check out a Charity campaign and encouraged those making donations to use this resource to do their homework before giving. "Fraudulent charities take more than your well-intentioned donation, they can also be fronts for identity theft scams that put people's financial futures at risk. It is so very important to verify the legitimacy of a charity before imputing or giving your credit card number. The clearinghouse the Better Business Bureau is creating will be a critical tool for consumers," said Director Lindstrom.

The BBB will be evaluating local and regional charities against its 20 comprehensive Standards for Charity Accountability, which were developed to assist donors in making sound giving decisions and to foster public confidence in charitable organizations. The standards seek to encourage fair and honest solicitation practices, to promote ethical conduct by charitable organizations, and to advance support of philanthropy.

"We all benefit from the important work that good charities do in and around our communities, and, while we encourage people to give, we want them to do so with confidence. People should look carefully at charitable organizations and make sure they are legitimate and carrying out the mission that they support. Tips for giving are available at our website at www.mass/ago and one can always check on a specific charity's financial filings at our office. The Better Business Bureau's standards, guidelines, and charity ratings are also a very valuable resource for anyone deciding how to give in this holiday season," said Assistant Attorney General Jamie Katz, Chief of AG Reilly's Public Charities Division

The standards were developed by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, a national charity watchdog based in Arlington, VA that affiliated with the Better Business Bureau system. The standards were issued by the Alliance in 2003 after significant input from charities, government regulators, foundations, accountants, corporate contribution executives, donors and other experts in philanthropy.

Using a new Online Charity Reporting and Evaluation System, charities enroll online with the BBB and submit requested information and materials. The BBB is then able to efficiently evaluate reports on individual local charities using this online system. The reports then become available to the public conveniently through the BBB's website, www.bosbbb.org. Reports will specify whether or not a charity meets the BBB charity standards. There is no charge to charities for the evaluation and no charge to the public for access to the resulting reports.

Visit the BBB at www.bosbbb.org to access the special section of the site dedicated to the Check out a Charity campaign.

About the BBB

Founded in 1920, the Better Business Bureau, Inc., is a non-profit, public service organization serving Eastern Massachusetts, Maine, and Vermont. The BBB provides free business Reliability Reports, Charity Reports, and other invaluable consumer information to the public. All BBB services are readily available on the Internet at www.bosbbb.org.