Throughout November, as Americans honor military veterans who served in the U.S. armed forces, the Better Business Bureau is advising consumers to be careful when donating to charities that emphasize heartbreaking stories of disabled veterans.

There are many well-run, legitimate charities that do help veterans, but there are others that fail to live up to their promises to assist veterans in need.

The BBB has issued warnings about several charities that devoted more money to raising funds than helping veterans; others weren’t willing to reveal how their funds were spent or the amount of assistance they offered.

Our BBB Scam Tracker received about 300 reports of charity scams in 2018; of those, 22 dealt with veterans charities.

BBB Charity Reviews let donors know whether a charity has met 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 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 insure 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 facts. (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.

Give, but give wisely by checking a charity’s BBB Charity Review at bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.

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 sgarland@springfieldbbb.org. You can find a retailer’s BBB rating or read a BBB Business Profile by going online to www.bbb.org or by calling 888-996-3887.

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