Today is Veterans Day, a day to honor those who serve and have served in the armed services. According to the Better Business Bureau Wise Giving Alliance, the national charity monitoring organization, donations to veterans and military-affiliated charities are always high around Veterans Day and throughout the holiday season.
Since 2007, a larger percentage of nationally-soliciting veterans and military-affiliated charities are disclosing information and meeting the BBB Standards for Charity Accountability. These charities are being more open about their finances and solicitation activities.
“We are here to help the public make informed decisions about the organizations they want to support, and we are excited to see more charities meeting our standards,” said H. Art Taylor, president and CEO of BBB Wise Giving Alliance. “While veterans groups still have more accountability work to do, we are encouraged to see that they are marching in the right direction.”
“Members of the military deserve to benefit as much as possible from the charitable organizations established to offer them resources and assistance,” added Tim Maniscalo, president and CEO of the Better Business Bureau serving Central Indiana. “In order to do that, consumers still need to do their research and make certain the charities they choose to support meet the BBB’s standards to ensure donations go where they are supposed to.”
The BBB Wise Giving Alliance offers the following advice when giving to veterans and military-affiliated organizations:
- Mistaken Identity: Watch out for name confusions. Many veterans’ charities include almost the same words in a different order or slightly different form.
- Clear Program Description: If the charity says it is helping veterans on its website, does it explain how and where it is doing so?
- Telemarketing Cautions: If called, do not hesitate to ask for written information on the charity’s programs and finances before making a donation decision.
- On-the-Spot Donation Decisions: Don’t be pressured to make an immediate donation. Charities should welcome your gift whenever you want to send it.
- Donating Used Clothes and Other Goods: Find out how the charity benefits from the collection and resale of used clothing and other in-kind gifts. Sometimes the charity receives only a small portion of the resale price.
- Check with Outside Sources before Giving: In addition to charity monitoring resources such as give.org, check with your state government’s charity registration agency, usually a division of the attorney general’s office.
For military consumers and their families, the Better Business Bureau also offers the BBB Military Line, a consumer education and advocacy program for active and retired military and their family members.
Military consumers are often the targets of specific scams, such as those involving military discounts and incentives and phony jury duty summons. The BBB Military Line provides services and resources to military communities in the areas of financial literary and consumer protection.
You can find a list of Veterans Service Organizations (VSO) at va.gov/vso/ and information about Military Service Organizations (MSO) at militaryonesource.mil. Then, research the charity at give.org.
To report a scam or sign up for BBB Scam Alerts, go to bbb.org/scam. To check the reliability of a company, visit indy.bbb.org/Find-Business-Reviews, and to find trustworthy businesses, visit bbb.org/indianapolis/accredited-business-directory/.