Baby Boomers — Investigate Before You Donate

By on August 7, 2014

InvestigateI just can’t watch anymore—it’s too hard. Perhaps you feel the same way.

I am talking about a national television commercial that always seems to air repeatedly whenever I plop down in front of the T.V. It features a heartbreaking collection of neglected and abused dogs and cats. One by one, they appear on the T.V. screen. Their sad eyes peer into your soul, begging for help.

A celebrity voice over describes the ongoing tragedy in brutal detail including demoralizing statistics.

I love animals, and watching this type of commercial makes me want to cry. It also makes me want to reach for my credit card and call the toll-free number before it’s too late.

I don’t.

It’s not that I can’t, I simply won’t.

There’s this little voice inside me saying. “Don’t be a sucker. Those poor animals will never see a cent of your money!”

When we give to our church, or buy cookies from the Girl Scouts, popcorn from the Boy Scouts, or donate to local charities, we do so confident our money is used to benefit those intended.

Then there are the many other requests we get for help…

Is the organization behind the abused animal commercial legit? And, what about those nightly phone calls from the “Associations of this, or Brotherhoods of that,” where does the money they collect go? The requests go on and on; the question remains the same – Should I give?

Baby boomers are among the most generous of generations. We open our wallets to a myriad of charities. Unfortunately, the scam artists are very willing to take advantage of our goodwill.

Now more than ever, it’s vital you investigate before you donate.

How-To Investigate Before You Donate

  • The website published an informative guide, “Top 10 Best Practices of Savvy Donors.”  The first three of the top ten may be all you need to know to become a savvy donor.

The titles for the first three are:
1) Be Proactive in Your Giving,
2) Hang up the Phone and Eliminate the Middleman, and
3) Be Careful of Sound-Alike Names.

You can review all ten Best Practices on the Charity Navigator site by clicking HERE.

Their group of Top 10 lists is also a terrific resource. See it HERE.

Additional Online Resources

  • Courtesy of the IRS, here is a searchable database that allows you to check a charitable origination’s tax-exempt status. Access it HERE. 
  • is a searchable database of 300+ charities that have met the accountability standards of the federal government’s charity drive.
  • The Charities Review Council helps non-profits adhere to a series of accountability standards. Charitable organizations that meet those standards are listed HERE.
  • Find additional online research resources courtesy of wikiHow. How to Investigate Nonprofit Companies is available HERE.
  • The Better Business Bureau also has a guide for charities and donors. See it HERE.

Bottom Line

As the old saying goes, there are more charities looking for your money than you can shake a stick at.

Individually it’s not possible to support every deserving charity. However, each of us can pick a cause or two close to our hearts. Spend some time researching organizations, and give to one where we are confident the bulk of each dollar goes to work doing good things.

And don’t forget to put a little aside for Girl Scout cookies, Boy Scout popcorn, and maybe drop a bag of pet food off at your local humane society next time you see an abused animal commercial.

All the best,

Editors – Boomers Know How

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