The holidays are not just about buying and receiving gifts from loved ones, but also about helping others. It’s a time to give back. But, before you give, it’s important to make sure your hard-earned dollars are going to the right place.

BBB Wise Giving Alliance recently conducted a survey of 2,100 adults in the United States to explore donor beliefs, feelings and behavioral intentions related to charity trust and generosity. The study, Donor Trust Report, found that of the respondents, 73 percent said it’s very important to trust a charity before giving to that cause. Only 19 percent say they highly trust charities.

Many respondents preferred donating food and clothing over sending cash donations or volunteering. And in order to determine trust, most respondents preferred the accomplishments of a charitable organization over such things as financial ratios, name recognition or even celebrity endorsements.

Overall, it’s important to do your research before deciding to donate so you don’t lose trust in a specific charity or cause. BBB has these important five tips to keep in mind before deciding where to send your support:

1) Watch out for name similarities: When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. Before you give, be sure you have the exact name of the charity to avoid a case of mistaken identity.

2) Avoid on-the-spot donations from unfamiliar organizations: The holidays bring a higher frequency of donation requests outside public locations.

Don’t succumb to pressure to make an immediate giving decision. Responsible organizations will welcome your gift tomorrow as much as they do today.

3) Be wary of emotional appeals: Marketers have been known to exploit the holidays to make emotional pleas to donors. Always research to verify that your selected charity operates ethically.

4) Avoid charities that don’t disclose: Although participation is voluntary, charities that don’t disclose any of the requested information to BBB WGA raise a critical red flag for donors. Visit to find out if your selected charity is nondisclosure.

5) Rely on standards-based evaluations: Charities can demonstrate they are trustworthy by agreeing to in-depth evaluations such as the 20 BBB Standards for Charity Accountability.

For more information on the BBB WGA Donor Trust Report, visit For more wise giving tips, visit

Lauren Galley is the regional director for the Bryan/College Station office of the Better Business Bureau serving the Heart of Texas. Her email address is