Wise Giving Wednesday: The Summer Heat and Firefighting Organizations

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calendar icon Jul 17, 2020

The summer heat wave is hitting parts of the United States with wildfires in California and especially across Arizona where temperatures have exceeded 115 degrees. As these events unfold, I am reminded of the hardships endured by firefighters seeking to control these blazes. Public sympathy for these brave public servants has always been high but these challenging fires certainly place a spotlight on their important role.  So, it is no wonder why the donating public responds generously when approached to support firefighter and police organizations.  Unfortunately, questionable solicitors seeking to take advantage of this public sympathy, have also been a continuing cause of frustration as well.  To help avoid potential pitfalls, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers this advice. 

  • Don’t assume that the words "firefighter or "police" in an organization's name means your local police force or fire department is involved. 
  • Ask for specifics about the programs your donation would support. Appeals are sometimes vague on this point.
  • Don’t be pressured into giving on the spot. Sympathy for the cause is no reason to forgo checking out the charity.
  • Don’t believe the suggestion (it’s illegal) that your donation will give you “special treatment” from firefighters or police.
  • Telemarketing, used by many police and fire organizations, can be costly. If solicited by phone, ask for financial information that will enable you to check this out.
  • Don’t assume that your contribution will be tax deductible as a charitable gift. Police and firefighter organizations may be of many types, not all with the same deductibility status.
  • See if the Better Business Bureau in your area has a report about the organization.

On a separate note, as part of our Building Trust Video Series, we are pleased to provide the following video that features Chuck Scofield, Chief Development Officer of Share Our Strength (a BBB Accredited Charity.)  Among other things, Share Our Strength carries out a No Kid Hungry campaign that seeks to engage the public to make ending child hunger a national priority.

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 https://give.org/ask-us-about-a-charity1/ if you are interested in seeing a report on a charity not on the list and we will do our best to produce one.  

H. Art Taylor, President & CEO
BBB Wise Giving Alliance

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