FF12: Resources available to make sure charity is legitimate before you give

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) With Giving Tuesday coming up next week, FactFinder 12 helps you know what you can do to make sure your money goes where you want it to go. To make sure your contribution actually benefits the cause you want to help, you can check out a charity before making a donation.

From Facebook campaigns to GoFundMe pages, there are countless ways to give this holiday season. Whether you're donating in person or online, the first step is to make sure your charity of choice is legitimate.

"This is such an important time of year for all the nonprofits," says Catholic Charities Executive Director Wendy Glick.

She says 80 percent of their philanthropic dollars come in between November and January.

That's one of the reasons Glick writes personalized notes to 600 of their biggest donors.

"We couldn't do what we do without the support of all our donors," Glick says. "it's well worth my time."

As president of the Wichita chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Glick understands the importance of maintaining integrity as a nonprofit.

"Of our annual budget, about a third of the total funding that comes into our organization is from philanthropic dollars, and that goes directly to the programs," Glick says.

She says donors can designate a specific service they'd like their money to go toward.

But how can you make sure that happens?

"The important thing is that when they get a charitable receipt back from us, it indicates that on the charitable receipt," Glick says. "We are very intentional about making sure that we honor the donor's request."

There are a few ways to research a charity before donating. Glick recommends making sure an organization is a certified 501-C-3 and not a for-profit a business.

"It's not taking your dollars and using it to pad the pockets of the executive board of directors," Glick says.

Denise Groene with the Better Business Bureau recommends using Give.org to check whether a charity meets the 20 standards of accountability set by the BBB.

"The main thing our standards are looking for is that money coming in is going back to the programs and services that charity supports," Groene says.

There are red flags to look out for when it comes to charities and donation-collecting efforts.

The first red flag is if someone said to be representing a nonprofit knocks on your door asking for donations, Glick says she's not aware of any charities in the Wichita area that will do that.

If you get a phone call from someone claiming to be with a charity, you should hang up and call that charity directly to let them know what happened.

You can also check out a charity and see its contributions and expenses by searching it on GuideStar.org.