Cheryl Parson: Be generous, but don’t be scammed


By Cheryl Parson - Better Business Bureau

OK, we’ve survived Black Friday and the weekend beginning the holiday shopping season. Cyber Monday looms large tomorrow. During the next few weeks we will be inundated with ads, ads, ads. Newspaper ads, TV and radio ads, Facebook and Twitter ads, and many more touting gift ideas for you to consider when shopping.

But are you aware of #GivingTuesday and the beginning of the biggest season of charitable giving? #GivingTuesday, in its fifth year, comes the Tuesday after Thanksgiving and is a one-day annual event focused on charitable donating.

#GivingTuesday’s website,, reports that more than 700,000 people donated $116 million online last year on #GivingTuesday. But, as I mentioned, #GivingTuesday is the kickoff of the time of year people feel most benevolent, filled with the giving spirit, wanting to make people’s lives better during the holidays.

Whole Whale, an organization that collects data on non-profits, anticipates 2016 charitable giving will reach record-breaking levels, far exceeding 2015’s record amounts. More than $252 million is expected to be raised, a whopping 116 percent jump in donations over 2015!

According to BBB, research indicates that to reach givers, charitable organizations will continue to use traditional means of contact such as telephone and regular mail but will also increase use of digital platforms such as email, Facebook, Twitter and other social media venues to solicit donations.

Along with the many deserving and trustworthy charities, scammers out there are just waiting to take advantage of donors during this season of generosity. Here are a few tips to help donors give wisely and make the most of their heartfelt monetary gift.

1. Confusing names. Make sure the name of the organization you donate to is actually the one you intended. Scammers often use the same words in different order to name their bogus charities. Be sure you have the exact name of the charity you want to help before you give.

2. Be cautious of emotional appeals. Playing on emotions during the holidays is a favorite tactic used by scammers to exploit well-intentioned donors. Take your time and don’t fall to the pressure of making an immediate decision. A responsible charity will appreciate receiving your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.

3. Be wary of telemarketing solicitations. Calling you on the phone is a favorite way for scammers to solicit money. The simple tactic that often deters fraudulent telemarketers is to request they send you details of their charities’ finances and programs before you donate. Most scammers will just move on.

4. Look for clarity. Review the organization’s website, letters and appeals. Search for a clear, specific explanation of how your donation will help intended recipients. Are they providing food and shelter? Financial assistance? If so, where? How much of the proceeds from these gifts get to the intended recipients?

5. Check out the charity. There are many resources you may use to investigate charities. You can request a free holiday issue of the BBB Wise Giving Guide by emailing [email protected] with “Free Guide” in the subject line, and the name and address of where you’d like the guide to be sent. You may also want to check with Ohio’s charity registration at Attorney General’s website, The website ranks non-profits based on their efficiency, transparency and accountability.

One of the great things about the holiday season is that giving makes us feel good. So go ahead, be generous when giving charitably. But use your head and your heart so your giving benefits those truly in need.

By Cheryl Parson

Better Business Bureau

Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at

Cheryl Parson is president of the Better Business bureau serving West Central Ohio. The BBB may be found on the Internet at

comments powered by Disqus