Giving Tuesday: The draw to donate and red flags to avoid

Grand Rapids

A client pulls a loaf of donated bread from a giant box at the Manna Food Center November 17, 2009 in Gaithersburg, Maryland. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Since it was created seven years ago, Giving Tuesday has exploded.

The founders of Giving Tuesday rolled it out in 2012 as a way to balance out consumer-driven Black Friday and Cyber Monday.

A recent report from Giving Tuesday’s leaders says they were banking that “technology and social media could be used to make generosity go viral,” and it appears to have paid off:

Now the one-day campaign spans 55 countries around the globe and Giving Tuesday’s board is rolling out a strategy to expand it further.

“In an increasingly disconnected world: We need more rituals that bring us together, defined by joy and hope,” the group’s report states.

REACH IN MICHIGAN

In the U.S., more than 120 communities have launched a Giving Tuesday program on the local level, including Grand Rapids.

The city founded #GRgives in 2016 as a way to provide a single platform to track down groups to donate to and volunteer with. The campaign earned a nod in Giving Tuesday’s report as a “celebration of civic pride and local generosity.”

Grand Rapids is not alone in backing the philanthropic push in Michigan. Dearborn-based Ford Motor Company is one of the 13 supporting institutions of Giving Tuesday, with The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as the lead sponsor.

MILLENNIALS VS. BABY BOOMERS: DONATION DIFFERENCES

Giving Tuesday leaders say millennials and Generation Zers ages 18-34 are the top participants in Giving Tuesday.

The average online donation across all age groups is $105, according to the Giving Tuesday report.

However, Baby Boomers still typically give larger financial donations, according to a November survey by YouGov. The research firm says 20% of Baby Boomers surveyed said they donate at least $1,000 to charities each year, compared to 11% of Generation Xers and 5% of millennials.

The causes earning support also vary by age group. The YouGov survey of 1,242 adults found millennials are more likely to say they’ve donated to a civil rights organization within the last year than Generation Xers and Baby Boomers — 18% compared to 11% and 7% respectively. Baby Boomers reported donating to human services charities and religious organizations at a higher rate than their younger counterparts.

>>PDF: YouGov survey on charity motivations

The YouGov survey said while the majority of American donors say they opt for charities they feel personally connected to, nearly four in 10 people pick charities they think will use their donations most effectively.

PROTECTING YOUR GIFT

With Giving Tuesday comes schemes that prey upon the generosity of unsuspecting donors.

While Americans donated more than $400 million online during last year’s Giving Tuesday, it’s unclear how much fell into the hands of scammers.

If you’re among those planning to participate in this Giving Tuesday, the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance has these five tips to help ensure your donation goes where you want it to:

  • Watch out for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.
  • Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations. With the holidays come more donation requests outside public places like grocery stores. Don’t cave under the pressure to give immediately — responsible organizations will welcome your gift at any time.
  • Be wary of emotional appeals. Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Don’t let emotions stop you from vetting the charity you’re interested in.
  • Opt for charities that disclose their information. Although participation is voluntary, charities that don’t disclose requested information to the Better Business Bureau’s Wise Giving Alliance raise a red flag. Visit Give.org to find out if your selected charity is nondisclosure.
  • Rely on standards-based evaluations. Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by agreeing to in-depth evaluations such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. Get free access to charity reports at Give.org.

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