Wise Giving Wednesday: Giving Tips for Small Businesses

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calendar icon Mar 22, 2023

Virtually all small businesses receive contribution requests from charities addressing a variety of causes. For example, youth sports teams, health charities, disaster appeals and/or requests from police and firefighter organizations. While most organizations are carrying out their activities in a responsible manner, there are some charities that do not. Small businesses, unfortunately, may not have specialized staff or resources to manage donation requests and, as a result, can sometimes be more vulnerable than larger companies.

To help small businesses avoid questionable contribution circumstances, BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice.

Check with BBB.  For a variety of reasons, small business customers and clients will probably assume that any charity that is permitted to solicit on their property will have been verified by them. This is all the more motivation to not let them down. A small business should visit BBB.org or Give.org to see if they have a report that indicates the charity meets the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability (i.e., a BBB Accredited Charity.)

Charity Registration with Government Agencies.  About 40 of the 50 states in the United States require charities to register, usually with the office of the attorney general or secretary of state. In Canada, businesses can check with the Canada Revenue Agency. Keep in mind that registration does not mean the government agency endorses, approves, or recommends the charity. It does, however, usually signal that the organization has at least completed the necessary paperwork, paid applicable fees, and has submitted necessary financial information to the applicable agency.

Clothing Donation Bins. If a business is approached about placing a metal clothing donation box near their parking lot or other publicly accessible area, make sure that the name of the charity is clearly identified on the bin along with a statement about how to get additional information, such as a phone number and/or website. The small business owner should ask the charity how the clothing donations will be used. One cannot assume they will be given to the needy. Some donations may be sold to thrift stores, turned into rag bond paper, or a combination of these possibilities. One should also ask how often the bin will be emptied and who can be contacted if the bin is not maintained in an orderly manner. 

Police and Firefighter Organizations. A small business should not assume that the words “police” or “firefighter” in an organization’s name means the local police force or fire department is involved. Also, watch out for a solicitor’s suggestion (it’s illegal) that your donation will give you “special treatment” from police or firefighters. For more tips on these groups, visit this link.

Excessive Pressure. Businesses should not succumb to excessive pressure to make an immediate donation. Well-run charities will welcome you to find out more about them so you might be motivated to make an even larger gift.  

Video of the Week

As part of the Building Trust Video series, BBB Wise Giving Alliance interviews Michelle DeLaune, President & CEO, National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (a BBB Accredited Charity) which seeks "to operate a national clearinghouse on missing and sexually exploited children; assist efforts to find missing children and reduce child sexual exploitation."

Heart of Giving Podcast

This week’s Heart of Giving Podcast features an interview with Mark Shamley, Vice President of Community Impact, Lift Orlando, which serves to strengthen the historic neighborhoods around Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida. Mr. Shamley is also a former Chair of the BBB Wise Giving Alliance Board of Directors.

Recent Reports

We are always working with charities to publish or update reports for donors. Visit Give.org or local BBBs to check out any charity before giving. Our recently evaluated charities include:

Finally, remember to let us know by going to give.org/charity-inquiry if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.

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