COLUMBUS (WCMH) — Giving Tuesday is upon us.

The day, usually held the day after Cyber Monday, is when charities hope you will reach deep into the budget and let money flow to parts of the community where you want people to be helped.

Face it, there is a lot of help getting done in the world and it takes money to accomplish all of it. From feeding the hungry to operating on cleft pallets, there are situations that need volunteers and money supports them to get the job accomplished.

The Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said in a news release, “We all need to open our hearts, our wallets – and our eyes.”

Yost is referencing how simple it can be to give online through social media and cell phones. While this makes giving convenient, there are ways to make sure you protect your donations and ensure you are giving to and through reputable organizations.

Kip Morse is the president of the Better Business Bureau of Central Ohio. He points out that there are a lot of great charities that depend on generous donations. He cautioned, however, there are websites out there that mimic the ones you may be looking to help.

“You click on a link within a site, it could be a fake site with a very familiar name that could throw you off,” Morse said.

One of the things to look for from a reputable charity is information: How it was founded, what the donations help, where it is located, and how you can get involved. Ultimately, the non-profits tell their stories well.

“They will tell their story in a way that will showcase the impact they are having in the community, and that’s the important thing,” emphasized Morse.

This is why the BBB has, which uses 20 accountability standards to measure charities.

It is estimated that American charities receive one-third of their annual donations during the holiday season. BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following tips to help donors give wisely and make the most of their generosity this holiday season. 

Better Business Bureau Tips: 

  • Review the website carefully: A responsible charity will include the following facts on their website: its mission, programs, measurable goals, information on their finances and concrete criteria that describes its achievements. 
  • Avoid on-the-spot donation decisions from unfamiliar organizations: The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations. Don’t feel pressured to donate on the spot. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they will today.
  • Rely on standards-based evaluations: Charities can demonstrate they’re trustworthy by agreeing to an in-depth evaluation like the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

“It makes it a lot easier for donors. It makes it a lot more transparent,” said Morse. “If a charity is not willing to share that information openly, then you should have a problem [giving to it.]”

Below are a number of ways you can obtain some great facts about places you are considering helping. From the BBB to the Ohio Attorney General to the Internal Revenue Service, all of these sites want to inform you and help you make sure your donations get where they are intended.

Ohio’s Attorney General tips for giving

  • Do not assume that charity recommendations on social media sites have already been vetted. Donors should research the charity, including whether it is registered, on the “Research Charities” section on the attorney general’s website.
  • Be cautious of “look-alike” websites and charities with names that sound similar to well-known organizations. Sometimes they are simply intended to confuse donors.
  • Make sure the donation website is secure. Look for the “s” in “https” at the beginning of the web address, which means the site is secure.
  • Watch out for emotional appeals. Scammers know it takes just one click to donate online and can capitalize on the convenience and spirit of giving with fake pictures and stories.
  • Determine what percentage of the donation will go to the charity and whether there will be any fees for donating.
  • Identify what the website will do (if anything) with personal information, and be wary of websites that do not provide a privacy policy.
  • Donors can also check the following resources to learn more about specific charities: IRS Select Check, BBB Wise Giving Alliance, Charity Navigator, and GuideStar.