Frequently Asked Questions

  1. If a charity isn't evaluated by the BBB Wise Giving Alliance, does that mean it's not legitimate?

    Absolutely not. Lack of a BBB WGA report has no negative significance; it simply means that we have not evaluated the organization. Either we have not received inquiries about the subject national charity, or the organization has not approached BBB WGA, at its own initiative, to request that an evaluation be completed.

  2. How do I get information on a charity that the BBB WGA does not evaluate?

    Often, the best source of information is the charity’s website. See if it contains an annual report, audited financial statements and/or the IRS Form 990 (the financial form required by the IRS for all charities above a certain size that are not a house of worship.)

    You can also contact your state government charity registration office (usually this is a division of the office of the attorney general or the secretary of state.) You can verify if the charity is registered with your state and often can obtain other information about the charity. About 40 of the 50 states in the U.S. require charities to register.

  3. What if I want information on the local affiliate of a national charity?

    Contact the BBB Wise Giving Alliance to find out the nature of the relationship between the local affiliate and national office of that charity. Sometimes the affiliate falls is not a separate organization and is part of the national office. Other times, it might be operating independently, and you would need to contact the Better Business Bureau serving that area.

  4. The charity appeal I received asks that donations be sent to a P.O. Box in a city that is different from the organization's street address. Is this cause for concern?

    Generally, no. Charities that conduct major direct mail campaigns frequently hire outside firms to collect and deposit funds on behalf of the organization. Soliciting organizations often contract with banks or other parties to ensure all checks are accounted for and promptly deposited. These firms may be located in other areas. As a result, the PO Box may in fact be a means to ensure greater security and control over contributions.

  5. How do I get off a charity's mailing list?

    Write to the charity and ask that your name and address be removed. Provide them with an address label from a recent mailing.

    If you want to reduce the overall volume of your charity mail, you might consider participating with The Direct Marketing Association has a service that can help get your name and address removed from some mailing lists.

  6. I received a request from a charity to solicit my neighborhood on their behalf. What should I consider in deciding whether to participate?

    While this form of fundraising is popular, accepting this assignment also entails responsibilities. For example, your neighbors and friends may assume that you have taken time to check out the organization. Have you reviewed the charity's program service activities, finances, governance, and whether it meets the BBB Charity Standards?

    Also, you may want to verify that the charity is registered to solicit in your state by contacting the appropriate state government agency (usually the attorney general's office or secretary of state’s office).

    For security and record keeping purposes, it is best not to collect cash. Ask for a check made out to the full official name of the organization and remember to promptly mail the collected donations to the organization. If donors have security concerns about providing a check, they can usually make a donation directly on the charity’s website. ᴮᴱᵀᴬ ᴮᴱᵀᴬ logo is an interactive digital window into the research and thinking of is ᴮᴱᵀᴬ logo is an interactive digital window into the research and thinking of

Try asking questions like these:
"How can I avoid getting defrauded with my donation?"
"How can I safely donate my car?" is