Stephanie Garland: BBB urges caution when giving this Memorial Day

Stories of veterans needing assistance often inspire Americans to make donations to charities that promise to help needy veterans. Donors should look beyond the poignant stories before making a donation around Memorial Day when supporting veterans’ causes.

In recent years, Better Business Bureau has issued several warnings about charities that failed to live up to their promises of providing assistance to veterans in need. Some devoted more money to raising funds than to helping veterans. Some weren’t willing to reveal how their funds were spent or the amount of assistance they offered.

Helping America’s veterans is a noble goal, but donors want to know that a charity will spend its money wisely. Before you give money to any charity, check it out at

BBB Charity Reviews let donors know whether a charity has complied with BBB Standards for Charity Accountability, 20 standards designed to show that a charity is transparent about its operations and fundraising and that it follows good governance practices. Charities that meet all 20 standards may qualify as BBB Accredited Charities. BBB has more than 11,000 Charity Reviews, covering local as well as national nonprofit organizations.

BBB offers the following tips to potential donors:

• Learn all you can about a charity before contributing. Ask for printed documentation on how much of your contribution will be used for program services and how much will go for fundraising and management expenses.

• Whenever possible, donate directly to a charity and not through a fundraising telemarketer or a direct mail solicitation. That helps ensure that most of your contribution goes directly to the charity.

• 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 information. (The address on the page where donations are collected should 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.

• Check with BBB for a BBB Charity Review. For a charity to receive BBB accreditation, it must meet 20 Standards of Accountability covering everything from governance to fundraising.

Before you do business with a charity or company, check its BBB Business Review at or by calling 417-380-5074.

Stephanie Garland is the regional director for the Better Business Bureau office in Springfield, 2754 S. Campbell Ave. Among those counties served by BBB Springfield are Jasper, Newton, McDonald, Lawrence and Barton counties. Emails may be sent to You can find a retailer’s BBB rating or read a BBB Business Profile by going online to or by calling 888-996-3887.

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