by Melissa Brunner
After a weekend filled with turkey and shopping, nonprofit organizations hope to turn your attention to helping people who are less fortunate by following Black Friday and Cyber Monday with Giving Tuesday.
The campaign launched in 2012 through the combined efforts of New York's 92nd Street Y and the United Nations Foundation. The idea was to create a national day of giving to start the holiday season, celebrating and encouraging activities that support nonprofit organizations.
#GivingTuesday is not itself a new nonprofit organization, it's merely the catalyst for spreading the word. The results from year number one speak for themselves. Here is the info from the project's website:
Blackbaud processed over $10 million in online donations on 11/27/12 – a 53% increase when compared to the Tuesday after Thanksgiving the previous year. DonorPerfect recorded a 46% increase in online donations and the average gift increased 25%. More than 50 million people worldwide spread the word about GivingTuesday – resulting in milestone trending on Twitter.
More than 2,500 partners registered for the inaugural effort. Judging by my Twitter feed and email inbox today, they'll have at least that many this year. I think it's an awesome reminder of the many great organziations doing important work to help others.
Of course, the unfortunate side to the story is that this season of giving also brings out scammers who want to take advantage of your generous heart. With that in mind, here is some advice from the Kansas Attorney General's Office to ensure you're giving wisely:
*Decide ahead of time how much you want to donate and what organizations you want to support.
*Never make a rushed decision when you receive a solicitation. Some fundraisers engage in high-pressure sales tactics to get you to donate over the phone. Instead, ask the solicitor to send you information about the organization in writing. Legitimate charities will be happy to send you information by mail and wait a few days or weeks for your donation.
*Most charitable organizations operating in Kansas are required by law to register with the Secretary of State’s Office. You can check a charity’s registration online at www.KsCharityCheck.org. On that website, you will also find helpful information about the organization, including how much of the money it raises goes to support the charitable purpose and how much is spent on fundraising expenses.
*If you’re planning on taking a tax deduction for your charitable contribution, ask about the organization’s tax status. Also check with your tax preparer to make sure the contribution will be deductible.
Here's wishing you and yours a very happy holiday season. On behalf of all the nonprofit organizations, thank you for your part in ensuring everyone in our community has a Merry Christmas - and the opportunity to live life to the fullest in the year ahead.