Giving Tuesday calls for both generosity and vigilance

By both design and calendar placement, Giving Tuesday is meant to be the palate cleanser that allows us all to digest and breathe a little easier following the ominously titled Black Friday and frenetic Cyber Monday. Meant to call attention to charities in need of support, Giving Tuesday began here in the United States and has since spread across more than 709 countries. The timing of the day also allows tax savvy adults aged 72 and over to donate their Required Minimum Distributions directly to the charity of their choice. (Of course, they can do this throughout the year, but the deadline to withdraw your RMD is Dec. 31 and many people do this in December.) In addition to altruism, Giving Tuesday also inspires a call to vigilance. We encourage everyone to research their charities carefully and to choose their donation method wisely. An international day of giving presents the perfect opportunity for people with nefarious intent as well. Here are five tips to keep you safe as you make your donations and shop online this holiday season: Hover your cursor over a link before you click it so you know exactly where that link will take you. When you look for something in Google or any other search engine, make sure you sift through the results carefully. Many companies intentionally mimic others and pay to be listed above them in search responses. If you are intrigued by something you see on social media, exit the app and initiate a fresh search for information about the company. Avoid clicking directly on links you see on social media. Before you input your credit card information, make sure the address includes an https:// at the beginning. HTTPS is an indication that a company or nonprofit’s website encrypts data to protect the information you give it from cybercrime. Be very wary of public Wi-Fi when you are making a monetary transaction. If you… | Read More »

Happy #GivingTuesday!

Of all the post-Thanksgiving hashtagged holidays, #GivingTuesday is our favorite. We like the idea of a day focused on charitable giving,  although we do urge caution at this time as well. Before you donate to any charity, we encourage you to look into its status. Is it registered with the IRS as a 501(c) (3)? What percentage of the funds raised go to overhead like salaries and marketing and what percentage funnels directly to the charity’s intent? Have you read the charity’s mission statement to be sure its goals align with yours? Because so many companies, including PayPal and Facebook, offer matching funds, Giving Tuesday offers great incentives to make a financial contribution today. But, we also urge you to pay wisely, especially for online donations. Make sure the address includes the “S” to indicate it is secure as in https:// rather than http://. Don’t donate from a public computer or using an unsecure Wi-Fi connection. If money is tight this year, there are plenty of other ways to participate. You can volunteer your time – sort food for a local pantry, ring bells for the Salvation Army, sign up for a charitable fun run, etc. You could also donate things you already have, which is often a win/win for you and the charity. Take clothes to Goodwill and slightly used coats, hats and mittens to Coats for Kids or check with your local schools or jails to see if they need donated clothing items. Food banks accept unexpired and unopened pantry items. Libraries, the Salvation Army and Goodwill all accept donations of gently used books. Even if you don’t have time today to vet a charity, or collect donations, or ring a bell you can still participate by just being kind. Wave a car into traffic, visit a lonely neighbor, compliment a worker, or call a friend.