CASA, PFS in need of volunteers, donations, tips for donating securely with Giving Tuesday

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CENTRAL ILLINOIS– A global generosity movement motivates people and organizations to make an impact in their local communities.

Giving Tuesday is a way to inspire thousands of people, especially those in Central Illinois to donate to charities that mean the most to you.

The big component before sending those funds though is making sure you’re doing so safely.

To see if a charity of your choice is accredited through the Better Business Bureau, CLICK HERE.

“Central Illinois is known for our big hearts and we historically give to charities all over the place,” said Jessica Tharp, President/CEO | Better Business Bureau.

It’s this deep routed giving nature that has Central Illinois prepped and ready to donate time and money to organizations to make the most impact.

“We always encourage you to give with your heart,” said Tharp. “But you also need to give with your brain, you know, make sure that you’re making a smart donation.”

Two area organizations Court Appointed Special Advocates or CASA and Pets For Seniors or PFS hope that Giving Tuesday helps them fill major voids with their respective organizations.

“We really need volunteers,” said Pamela Perrilles, Executive Director | CASA of the Tenth Judicial Circuit. “For 100 volunteers that we recruit and train we will be able to serve over 300 children.”

“At Pets for Seniors, we don’t want to saddle a senior with a sick animal,” said Liz Pollack, President of Board | PFS. “So we do dentals, we do blood work, we try to ensure before they go to their new home that they’re as healthy as they can be as a senior pet.”

CASA is in need of volunteers and financial donations. When it gets involved, kids spend an average of 8 months less in the system.

“[Kids] know where your home is going to be,” said Perrilles. “Who your parents are going to be. What schools you’re going to go to. All those critical things that are important to children for them to be able to thrive and do well, you know? That’s what we want.”

PFS also in need of volunteers, but it has a goal of raising $2,000 to help with their $30,000 vet bill when it comes to dental, health, spay and neutering.

“I think people really can align with our mission, which is matching older animals with older seniors and improving the lives of both,” said Pollack.

So whether helping children in need, animals find forever homes, or whichever non-profit fits your moral compass, just make sure you’re making your contribution with a trusted website, email thread or secure platform.

“From a personal standpoint, decide what’s important for you and then seek out an organization that you can trust and donate there,” said Tharp. “That’s the easiest thing to do

Below are listed red flags associated with scam artists who try to take advantage of Giving Tuesday:

  • Watch out for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.
  • Review the website carefully. A responsible charity will include the following facts on its website: its mission and programs, measurable goals, and concrete criteria that describe its achievements. You should also be able to find information on their finances. Keep in mind, the type of work a charity does will affect its costs.
  • Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations. Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.
  • Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Instead of making an impulse decision based on emotion, do some research first to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.
  • Check with state charity officials. In many states, charities are required to register with the office of the attorney general before soliciting. Checking your state’s appropriate office is an easy way to detect if an organization is legitimate or not. You can find this information on the National Association of State Charity Officials (NASCO) website.
  • Avoid charities that don’t disclose. Although participation is voluntary, charities that don’t disclose any of the requested information to BBB WGA raise a critical red flag for donors. Visit Give.org to find out if your selected charity is nondisclosure.
  • Rely on standards-based evaluations. Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by agreeing to in-depth evaluations such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Get free access to charity reports at Give.org.
  • Research tax status. Don’t assume every organization claiming to do good is a tax-exempt charity. You can check an organization’s tax status with the IRS Tax Exempt Organization Search tool. Also, make sure your contribution is tax-deductible.

Below are ways to give wisely (according to the Better Business Bureau):

  • Go directly to the donate page on charity websites to avoid additional processing fees.
  • Vet charities as you would when you get direct mail appeals: Examine charity websites, annual reports, and other materials to develop familiarity and trust and visit give.org to see if the organization is a BBB Accredited Charity.
  • Avoid the rush: See if the giving day offers a window to give before the actual day of the event to avoid any processing hiccups.
  • Get your boots on the ground: See if there are volunteer opportunities or ways to participate that can deepen your connection to the mission of your charity of choice or the cause you care about most.
  • Read the fine print: When you come across a giving day promotion on social media, read the fine print. Make sure giving day promotions link to legitimate charity websites or third-party platforms you’re comfortable with. If you aren’t sure, ask friends, family or experts. Charities can benefit from donations, donor information, volunteer hours, exposure, and collaborative relationships by participating in giving days.
  • Like the old saying goes: you get out of it what you put into it. For charities, careful planning well in advance is critical. Does the organization want to rely on corporate matching? What about spurring competition among nonprofits or donors for a #GivingTuesday campaign? Will organizations use outside specialists to help run the campaign? There may be little cost to putting a #GivingTuesday logo on your organization’s website, but to maximize your return, charities should think ahead and think collaboratively. Givingtuesday.org, classy.org, blackbaud.org, and givegab.org are just a few resources to get charities started.

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