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Consumer Handbook: Holiday Giving

For many Americans, giving to charities is almost as important during the holidays as celebrating with family. As a result, mailboxes often are stuffed with charitable solicitations as well as catalogs and shopping circulars this time of year. Whether you celebrate or not, giving before Jan. 1 means your gifts can be deductible on your 2021 tax return.

While many well-run, legitimate charities are helping the community, others fail to live up to their promises to assist those in need. Better Business Bureau has issued warnings about several charities that devoted more money to raising funds than helping others and, in some cases, weren’t willing to reveal how their funds were spent or the amount of assistance they offered.

BBB Scam Tracker received more than 700 reports of charity scams over the last three years. If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don't hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances. Don't succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow.

Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used. Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that it has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal facts. (Secure sites’ addresses begin with https://.)

When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.

BBB urges donors to seek professional advice if they are in doubt about the deductibility of contributions. The IRS Web site has information on the deductibility of donations on tax returns.

Cape Girardeau native Whitney Quick is the former Regional Director of Better Business Bureau in Cape Girardeau, MO. She joined the Cape Chamber as Vice President of Programs and Leadership Development in May 2023. Quick is a graduate of Cape Girardeau Central High School and Southeast Missouri University where she majored in public relations.
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