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Expert advice makes for safe holiday donations


December 19, 2011
By JOURNAL?STAFF , The Mining Journal

MARQUETTE - Michigan residents hoping to make a charitable donation this holiday season can get some guidance and advice on safe and smart giving with the brochure Giving Wisely, provided by the Michigan Nonprofit Association, Council of Michigan Foundations, Michigan Association of United Ways and Attorney General Bill Shuette.

The brochure gives the public tips on how to avoid scams and check on how an organization will likely use their gift.

"Giving Wisely is the commitment of the Michigan nonprofits to work with government to educate and protect donors," said Kyle Caldwell, president and chief executive officer of the Michigan Nonprofit Association.

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With many charitable organizations making their end of year appeals for donations during the holidays, Giving Wisely advises donors to look at different issues, such as the purpose of the organization to which they are giving, how much of the donation goes to programs rather than administrative expenses, if the donation is tax deductible and the recent accomplishments of the organization.

"Michigan citizens have generous hearts, but before giving to charity, it's important to do your homework," Schuette said. "The tips in Giving Wisely will help citizens ensure their hard-earned dollars make a real difference in our communities."

The brochure also includes tips and resources for avoiding scams, including making donations by asking for and keeping receipts, not giving credit card numbers out over the phone unless you can verify that the organization has contacted you, and using secure websites for donating online.

"Now is the time that most Michigan citizens start to think about how they will wrap up their charitable donations for the year. We hope this will be a useful tool for donors," said Rob Collier, president and CEO of the Council of Michigan Foundations.

Additional tips for identifying scams on the Michigan Attorney General's website include bills or invoices that are sent to you even if you have never pledged money to the organization; evasive or vague answers to specific questions about the charity and how money is used; words making up a charity's name that closely resemble a better-known charity; no time allowed to reconsider your pledge or an insistence on collecting donations immediately; refusing to send information about the charity; and emotional appeals and high-pressure tactics to get you to make quick decisions or feel guilty about not contributing.

The brochure is available at the Michigan Nonprofit Association website at



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