Giving wisely to charity

FRESNO, Calif.

The Central Valley Better Business Bureau said this time of year less than reputable groups will set up in shopping centers and in front of stores to cash in on people's generosity.

The BBB said dropping your money into the famous red buckets at the Salvation Army stands is a wise move.

"You have to know where you're giving to, because you could be giving to a bad cause," said Wan Moua of Fresno. "You want to be giving to a good cause."

Blair Looney with the BBB told Action News if the charity makes you feel uneasy about donating, just don't do it.

"If you have any doubt, trust your feelings," Looney said.

He added it's important not to get caught up in your emotions when donating, ask questions about who the money is for, check the worker's identification and avoid the middle man by sending a check directly to the charity.

"We will be more than happy to tell ya exactly where your money goes to," said Dayatra Latin, Director of Development at the Community Food Bank. This group, which serves Fresno and the surrounding areas, is one of the groups the BBB supports.

Latin said a local fundraising group is using her organization's logo to sell coupon books and t-shirts, mostly in shopping centers. She said she regularly receives phone calls from people wanting to know if that money is going back to the food bank. "They really are giving to us, but I'm just glad that the community cares enough to call," Latin said.

"We as consumers, we as those that give to charity, we have the right to ask questions of how is our money going to be used," Looney said.

There are many organizations in the valley that are reputable you just have to do some research to find them.

The BBB also said look for non-profit groups with low overhead, ones that put at least 65 percent of their income back into their charity.

You can also check a non-profit's Form 990 from the IRS. That form gives a breakdown of funds.

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