As we approach the summer season, feel the warmer weather and dream of ice cream scoops on cones, the public will also experience in-person solicitations for charities in many major cities in the U.S. and Canada. Young people with friendly enthusiasm and armed with clip-boards and electronic pads will seek your contributions to help the environment, animals, needy children in foreign lands or cure a disease. While fundraisers don’t expect a donation from everyone, it can sometimes be hard to say no or avoid their approach. And, there is the announced guilty question we often hear about “whether we care about the (fill in the blank) cause” when we pass.
For young people seeking a job in the summer, this can be hard but rewarding work helping organizations and issues they care about. The hours can be long, however, and one needs to develop a thick skin to overcome rejection and the occasional verbal abuse of mean-spirited pedestrians. The pay arrangements will vary. Some charities may use a type of commission based on the volume of donations obtained while others may involve a flat fee arrangement. A charity may handle these appeals directly or may hire a third party to manage them. Whatever the circumstances, we encourage job applicants to take the time to check out the charity at Give.org to verify if they meet the BBB Charity Standards.
For those considering making a donation to in-person fundraisers, here are some tips to keep in mind:
1. Look for clothing with charity logos. Most face-to-face fundraisers will have clothing with an official charity logo patch or a t-shirt with the charity’s name.
2. Ask to see the ID card. Responsible charities also will issue identification cards with a picture of the canvasser along with the charity’s name.
3. Fact sheets should be available. If requested, fundraisers will generally have fact sheets available that summarize information about the organization and provide instructions about where to find additional details.
4. Monthly giving arrangements. Many canvassers will encourage more than a one-time gift. They will offer a monthly contribution arrangement that will charge your credit or debit card an agreed monthly amount. This longer term giving circumstance is what makes the solicitation effort worthwhile to the charity.
5. Remember, it’s okay to say no. Giving is a personal decision and donors should not feel pressure to make an on-the-spot contribution if they need more time to consider, especially if the request is for a periodic donation throughout the year.
6. Report suspicious behavior. Canvassers for charity will usually be young adults over 18 years of age with appropriate identification as mentioned above. Be very cautious about underage fundraisers, without any visible adult supervision, asking for charitable donations. For example, such questionable appeals may take place on public transportation systems, by children claiming to be raising money for sports team uniforms by selling candy bars. Report suspicious behavior to the authorities.
7. BBB Charity reports are as close as your phone. If you have a smart phone, you are a click away from using Give.org to verify the trustworthiness of a charity by finding out if our report indicates they meet the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.
As part of our Building Trust Video series, we are pleased to provide a video of Elana Silber, Executive Director of Sharsheret (a BBB Accredited Charity), an organization that supports young Jewish women and families facing breast cancer at every stage.
We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:
Finally, remember to let us know by going to https://www.give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.
H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance