Faced with ever-rising costs, the loss of government funding, and an increasing demand for their services, charities are responding by asking for larger contributions from more donors - and they're asking more often than ever before. Donors should plan their giving and demand accountability of the organizations soliciting their support.
If you plan to donate money this spring season, your BBB would like to offer the following advice:
* When in doubt, check it out. When an unfamiliar organization asks you for a donation, don’t give without gathering details about the charity, the nature of its programs and its use of funds. Visit the Canadian Revenue Agency at cra-arc.gc.ca/tax/charities for a list of registered charities in Canada. To search for licensed third-party telemarketers in B.C. who are making calls on behalf of legitimate charities, please visit the Consumer Protection BC website at consumerprotectionbc.ca
* Think before you give. If you are solicited at the mall or on the street, take a minute or two to think. Ask for the charity’s name and address. Get full identification from the solicitor and review it carefully. Ask to see written information on the charity’s programs and finances.
* Giving later might be better. Never feel pressured to give on the spot. Legitimate charities will welcome your money tomorrow. If the solicitor pressures you with intimidation or harassing phone calls, don’t hesitate to file a complaint with BBB.
* Watch out for cases of mistaken identity. With about 9,000 registered charities in B.C. alone, it’s not surprising that some charity names sound alike. Be sure the one soliciting you is the one you have in mind.
* Don’t accept vague claims. If an item is being sold to benefit a charity, be wary of statements such as “all proceeds go to charity” or “your purchase will benefit a charity.” Look for a disclosure that indicates the actual or estimated amount of the purchase price that the charity will receive to fund its programs.
* Unordered merchandise is free. If a charity sends you greeting cards, address labels or other merchandise with an appeal for donations, you are not obligated to make a donation or pay for the items.
* Watch out for charity fraud. Legitimate charities do not demand donations; they willingly provide written information about their programs, finances or how donations are used; and they never insist you provide your credit card number, bank account number or any other personal information.
* Tax receipts. If you are looking to make a tax-deductible donation, only a registered charity has received a Registration Number from the Canada Revenue Agency and can issue donation receipts for gifts.
Learn more about giving to charities by visiting us at (Vancouver) mbc.bbb.org or (Vancouver Island) vi.bbb.org Happy giving!
MAY 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER ISLAND
MAY 2010 SENIOR LIVING MAGAZINE VANCOUVER & LOWER MAINLAND
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