While malls and online shopping may be the focus for many people this weekend, let’s take a moment to think about giving. For the last several years, charities in the United States and beyond have promoted the Tuesday after Thanksgiving as “Giving Tuesday.”

The idea started with the 92nd Street Y in New York, but it has grown to include more than 50,000 participating organizations nationwide. Last year, hundreds of thousands of donors gave more than $300 million through donation platforms listed on the Giving Tuesday website.

Better Business Bureau encourages donors to give, but give wisely. BBB has Charity Reviews on more than 1,000 charities in Missouri and Illinois and 11,000 charities nationwide, including many national charities accredited with BBB’s Wise Giving Alliance.

Charities that meet all of BBB’s 20 Standards of Charity Accountability can become BBB Accredited Charities. These nonprofits are committed to transparency, good governance and to spending most of their resources on programs.

Giving during the holidays is an American tradition, and whether you celebrate or not, giving before Jan. 1 means your gifts will be deductible on your 2018 tax return. BBB urges donors to seek professional advice if they are in doubt about the deductibility of contributions.

BBB has tips that increase your confidence that your donation will be used wisely:

• If you are unfamiliar with an organization, don’t hesitate to ask the charity for written information about its programs and finances.

• Don’t succumb to pressure to give money on the spot. A charity that can use your money today will welcome it just as much tomorrow. Watch out for appeals that bring tears to your eyes, but tell you nothing about how your donation will be used.

• Before making online donations, determine whether the charity’s website is secure and that it has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal facts. (Secure sites’ addresses begin with https://.)

• When considering support for a cause-related marketing campaign, find the answers to these questions: What portion of the purchase price will benefit the charity? What is the duration of the campaign? What is the maximum or minimum total contribution? If the information is not on the item, check the organization’s website.

• Before donating used items, make sure they are in good shape to reuse. Donating junk puts an undue burden on the charity and could do more harm than good. You may want to consider selling the item and donating the proceeds to a charity.

Consumers can learn how to protect themselves or find BBB Business Profiles and BBB Charity Reviews by calling (573) 886-8965 or by going online to bbb.org.

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