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Safeguard your holiday donations by asking questions and doing the research first

Charity watchdog groups warn about giving quickly after emotional pitches
Safeguard your holiday donations by asking questions and doing the research first
Posted at 5:00 AM, Nov 29, 2022
and last updated 2022-11-29 11:10:13-05

COLORADO SPRINGS — With Giving Tuesday here and Colorado Gives Day on the horizon, there are many charities that could use your support this holiday season. News5 takes a deep dive into holiday donations and how you can make sure you’re making a safe contribution that gets to the people who need it.

If you’re in a position to donate money to a charity this holiday season, you’ll hear some pretty convincing pitches about overwhelming needs. It’s why charity watchdog groups say we should do our homework to make sure our donation has an impact.

Perhaps you’ll consider giving to the arts…

”Especially right after a pandemic. Right after such a time when we all had to adapt to a new circumstance and we couldn’t do performances,” said President & CEO of the Colorado Springs Philharmonic Nathan Newbrough. “We are in a huge moment. A comeback for the arts. The philharmonic is in a position to lead in that and set an example. So as a cornerstone of this community we count on the community’s support.”

The Colorado Springs Philharmonic says this time of year it hopes people will consider contributing to its cause and those who make donations will quickly see the results.

”We expect them to want to know how those dollars are used and with the philharmonic you can see it immediately. You can see it in performances here on the stage and we take transparency very seriously,” said Newbrough.

Or maybe you want to help the youth in our area, involved in First Tee Southern Colorado, helping to encourage and inspire them with the game of golf.

”First Tee is a small non-profit here in our community, so any amount of donation helps us,” said First Tee Southern Colorado Executive Director Sandy Johnson. “It really helps us to see as many kids as we can possibly see, offer financial aid, free golf clubs.”

Families involved say the impact goes far beyond the golf course.

“The chance to spend time with my peers and they will help me,” said Levi Hayward.

”The personal skills, the decency, the integrity, the manners, the composure, how to not lose your temper, there’s so many skills that carry over into everyday life,” said Levi’s father George.

These are just two of the charities in the Pikes Peak Region with good reputations, who will be looking for support during this popular time of year for donations.

Laurie Styron who leads CharityWatch a charity watchdog group, has a warning that every year people will give away their hard earned money before doing the research first.

”We see so many people they get taken in by emotional appeals of sad photos of injured animals, or homeless veterans, or children with cancer. These images are extremely compelling and to quell that emotional discomfort, a lot of us will make a donation and feel like we’ve done something good, but in fact the most predatory people are going to target those highly popular causes,” said Styron.

Here are some of the steps she suggests you take before you hand over your donation money.

”Just make sure you trust the person running it. Understand how many people are on the board of directors. Make sure it’s not a one person operation and there are some checks and balances and some oversight in place,” said Styron. “Definitely ask, how is my money going to be spent? Because we want most of our donation to be spent really funding the programs and we want charities to keep their overhead costs in check. Reasonable, but not outrageous.”

The good news is there are several tools for you online to help you find lists of verified charities and even to learn more about how exactly your funds are spent.

Here are some of those resources to help you make the best decisions with your donation dollars this holiday season:

https://www.charitywatch.org/

https://www.guidestar.org/NonprofitDirectory.aspx

https://www.bbb.org/local-bbb/bbb-of-southern-colorado

https://www.coloradogives.org

https://www.charitynavigator.org/

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