Better Business Bureau: Give wisely this season, BBB says

CONTACT: Susan Bach, Director of Communications

PHONE: 414- 847- 6085

FAX: 414-302- 0355

E-MAIL: [email protected]

Milwaukee, Wis., Dec. 19, 2011 – The continuing battle over taxes and spending in Congress leaves many Americans wondering how much they’ll have to pay in taxes next April 15. But one thing is sure: You can only deduct charitable gifts made by the end of this year on your 2011 return.

Charities know that the holiday spirit of giving and year-end tax planning lead many Americans to make their donations in December. As a result, mailboxes often are stuffed with charitable solicitations as well as catalogs this time of year. The Better Business Bureau (BBB) has tips to make your giving more effective as well as deductible.

“Consumers want to know that their money is being spent wisely when they write a check to a charity,” said Randall Hoth, Wisconsin BBB president/CEO. “When potential donors see that a charity meets the BBB’s 20 Standards of Charity Accountability, they should be reassured that their money will be spent wisely. Of the 65 charities whose reports are available at wisconsin.bbb.org, just 25 meet these standards.”

BBB tips that can help you make sure your donation will be used appropriately:

* 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.

* Before donating used items make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and does more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.

The BBB urges donors to seek professional advice if they are in doubt about the deductibility of contributions. Other helpful tips for making donations are posted on the BBB website. The IRS Web site (http://www.irs.gov) has information on the deductibility of donations.

For more information or further inquiries, please contact the Wisconsin BBB at http://www.wisconsin.bbb.org or 414-847-6000 (metro Milwaukee), 920-734-4352 (Appleton), 608-268-2221 (Madison) or 1-800-273-1002 (elsewhere in Wisconsin).

About BBB

BBB is an unbiased non-profit organization that sets and upholds high standards for fair and honest business behavior. Businesses that earn BBB accreditation contractually agree and adhere to the organization’s high standards of ethical business behavior. BBB provides objective advice, free business BBB Reliability ReportsTM and charity BBB Wise Giving ReportsTM, and educational information on topics affecting marketplace trust. To further promote trust, BBB also offers complaint and dispute resolution support for consumers and businesses when there is difference in viewpoints. Although the first BBB was founded in 1912, the Wisconsin BBB began in 1939. Today, 125 BBBs serve communities across the U.S. and Canada, evaluating and monitoring more than four million local and national businesses and charities. Please visit http://www.bbb.org for more information about BBB.