Q. As a group our employees wish to support our veterans. Veterans Day would be a good time and it reminds me to seek a charity that would have an immediate and direct impact. What advice may BBB provide for choosing a worthy military charity?
A. Thank you for supporting our veterans. On Veterans Day, many Americans will seek to remember and honor veterans by contributing to charities and other nonprofit organizations that address a variety of issues and needs facing veterans, military service members and/or their families.
The challenge, however, is how to make a wise giving decision among the over 45,000 organizations in the United States that address these issues. While the majority of these organizations are small organizations that bring in less than $50,000 a year, there are still quite a number of larger veterans groups from which to choose.
To help donors make informed decisions about such contributions to veteran's organizations, the BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips.
Look at the name carefully
It's easy to be confused as many veterans' charities include virtually the same words in different order or slightly different form. So, be alert and make sure the organization you are considering is the one you want to support.
Find out what they do
Don't assume what the veterans organization does based on their name alone. Look for a clear description of the organization's programs in its appeals and on its website. Transparency and accountability are paramount in importance.
Be careful about phone appeals
If not managed properly, some telemarketing campaigns for veterans organizations can be an expensive way to raise funds with very little going to the organization. If called, do not hesitate to ask for written information on the charity's programs and finances before making a donation.
Be wary of excessive pressure
Don't be pressured to make an immediate on-the-spot donation to a veteran's organization. Charities should welcome your gift whenever you want to send it. Charities that need money today will also welcome the donation tomorrow.
Learn how donated items will be used
Find out how the charity benefits from the collection and resale of used clothing and other in-kind gifts. Sometimes the charity receives only a small portion of the resale price of the item or may have a contractual arrangement to get a flat fee for every household pick-up, no matter what the contents.
Check with outside sources before giving
In addition to charity reports on Give.org, check with your state government's charity registration agency, usually a division of the Attorney General's office.
Of course, charities devoted to the various needs of veterans and their families deserve our support throughout the year and not just on Veterans Day. But for those donors thinking of making a special contribution in honor of Veterans Day, we urge them to check out the organization before they donate. Visit www.give.org to view a list of the 10 largest accredited national veteran's charities.
Jim Winsett is president of the Better Business Bureau in Chattanooga.