Tis’ the season to get giving. After we’ve sat around bountiful tables with loved ones, it’s time to remember our year-end giving. It’s a time to earmark a little something extra for the charity doing great work in our community and around the globe. At the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, we love the giving season.

In addition to our passion for service and giving back, BBB is on a mission to make your giving experience better. We want to connect you to charities you can trust. We play the watchdog role for nonprofit organizations, vetting them on criterion you care about: Do they spend donors’ money well? Do they advertise honestly? Do they respond to donor concerns and complaints?

We report that valuable nonprofit information on give.org, the Better Business Bureau’s charity-monitoring website. We keep watch on charities, so you can focus on the joy of giving. We don’t rank those charities or assign them a letter grade. Instead, we like to help donors make informed giving decisions and help charities hold themselves to higher standards of conduct; we call them our Standards for Charity Accountability.

BBB reports on national charities the public asks about most, as well as charities that request to be evaluated. Give.org reports on about 1,300 national charities. Additionally, BBB reports on over 10,000 local charities, using the same high BBB Charity Standards. In Idaho, that means you can learn about the local shelter serving hundreds on a shoestring budget. You can find out about the Idaho charity providing care for families looking after sick children. In short, you can find, and be part of, a deserving story.

Evaluations on charities are done with no charge to the organization and posted for the public to view freely at give.org. BBB also publishes a Wise Giving Guide magazine three times a year that is chock full of timely topics and tips to make you a savvy donor.

Your BBB offers the following tips to keep in mind as you donate this holiday season:

1. Get the charity’s exact name. With so many charities in existence, mistaken identity is a common problem. Thousands of charities have “cancer” in their name, for example, but no connection with one another.

2. Resist pressure to give on the spot, whether from a telemarketer or door-to-door solicitor.

3. Be wary of heart-wrenching appeals. What matters is what the charity is doing to help.

4. Press for specifics. If the charity says it’s helping the homeless, for example, ask how and where it’s working.

5. Check websites for basics. A charity’s mission, program and finances should be available on its site. If not, check for a report at www.give.org.

6. Don’t assume that every organization is a tax-exempt charity. You can readily check an organization’s tax status at: https://www.irs.gov/charities-non-profits/exempt-organizations-select-check

No matter where you choose to give, do it safely. After all, when you give to a charity you can trust, the difference you make is amplified.

Rebecca Barr is Boise Marketplace Manager of the Better Business Bureau Northwest + Pacific, serving the Snake River Region from Ontario to Jackson, Wyoming. For more information, visit bbb.org or call (800) 218-1001.

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