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Charitable Giving During the Holiday Season

November 23, 2015

‘Tis the season of giving! Holiday cheer bolsters charitable initiatives while year-round needs are magnified. If you are searching for a way to get involved and make a difference, you need not look far. From red kettles at storefronts to collection boxes in office lobbies, there is no shortage of opportunities to support a cause at this time of year. Embrace the influx in generosity, but also be mindful of appropriate measures to safeguard your good intentions.

While there are many well-known charities with reliable websites and detailed giving instructions, there are also many lesser-known organizations that aim to support worthy causes. If you feel led to support one of these organizations with a monetary donation, do not hesitate to verify that the contribution is going to a trustworthy recipient. Reach out to the organization directly and ask questions about the cause itself, what the charity stands for and how much monetary support goes directly to the cause. The Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance cautions donors to evaluate charities in order to make the most of each giver’s generosity. On-the-spot or strongly emotional pleas for assistance can tug at your heartstrings, but be heedful before opening your wallet. Though unfortunate, kindness and goodwill can be cashed in for the wrong reasons. Ensure your donations are going to the right hands and your personal information is not getting into the wrong hands. Avoid situations where information is not openly disclosed and names or logos are strikingly similar to other causes. If a charity you are interested in supporting is questionable, contact the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, GuideStar, Charity Navigator or Charity Watch to verify it’s accredited.

Regardless of where your donation is going or how much you are giving, it is important to keep an accurate record of your contribution for security and tax purposes. Receipts are always a good idea and should be kept in a safe, memorable location. For sizeable donations, it is often ideal to write a check to establish a paper trail and a method to monitor when it is deposited. If an organization asks for credit card or bank information and you feel uncomfortable sharing those details because sufficient reasoning is not provided, the most secure option is to donate via cash or check. Nowadays, online donations are common and expedite processes. However, it is vital to use your discretion before making a donation virtually. After confirming that the organization is legitimate, verify that the site is secure. As with receipts, keep online donation confirmations in a safe place so that they can be evidence in your favor if there is a glitch. Additionally, these confirmations serve as your donation verification for tax deductions.

The holiday season sets a tone for generosity, but do not let the twinkling lights and cheerful music cloud your judgment in situations where your assets are on the line. If at any time a charity is in question, it is recommended that you pause and evaluate before giving. Furthermore, if at anytime you feel that you may be a victim of a scam or fraud, contact your local bank immediately and they will guide you through the appropriate steps to maintain or regain optimal security.

James Oosterman is the Vice President of Melrose Bank. He can be reached by telephone 781-665-2500, online at melrosebank.com or on Facebook at facebook.com/MelroseBank.


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