BBB - Tips for Money Donations

The Better Business Bureau
gives the following tips:

  • Before giving, ask for written information about a charity’s program, finances and tax status—especially if you are unfamiliar with the organization.
  • Don’t bend to pressure to give money immediately, especially over the phone.  A charity that wants your money today will also welcome it later.
  • Be cautious about charities that use names similar to well-known national organizations.  Sometimes an organization will choose a name in hopes that donors will confuse it with the better-known charity.
  • Make sure a charity’s website has a privacy policy concerning the use of your name, email address or other personal information.

  • Do not give cash.   Always make contributions by check and make it payable to the charity, not the individual collecting the donation.

  • Keep records of your donations (receipts, canceled checks, bank statements), so you can document your charitable giving at tax time.
  • Check a charity’s Form 990 report at  The IRS requires most tax-exempt organizations to file a public Form 990.
  • For more information on a specific charitable organization, you may contact the local BBB at (509) 455-4200, or check its reliability report at  
  • Check out the organization with the local charity registration office.  Other good sources are Guidestar ( and Charity Navigator (, both of which help you sort through the myriad charitable groups out there.”   (“Tips from the Better Business Bureau”)   

Additional Information

  • The Spokane Journal of Business produces a list of "Largest Social-Service Nonprofits" in their annual Book of Lists, which gives information on about 50 of the local nonprofits.  The information includes their annual budget, number of board members/employees/volunteers, the name of their Executive Director, what percentage of funding is delivered to services, and more.

  • Find more information.   In Washington State, charities have to register with the Secretary of State.  You can find out information about them from the Washington Secretary of State website.  It has contact information for most of the registered charities and some financial information, such as percent of expenses devoted to program services for the larger charities.  Small charities (raising less than $25,000 per year from the public) and religious charities do not have to register.

Additional Resources

Better Business Bureau
508 W. 6th Avenue, Suite 401
Spokane, WA  99204
The BBB is a private, nonprofit organization that provides services and programs to assist consumers and businesses.   The BBB provides reports on businesses and charities, complaint handling, mediation and arbitration with participating businesses.  In addition, the BBB offers consumer information brochures on a wide variety of subjects regarding marketplace issues.   Spokane’s Better Business Bureau serves Eastern Washington, North Idaho and Montana, and has nearly 130,000 companies in their database.

Charity Navigator
America’s largest, independent evaluator of charities. 

Council of Better Business Bureaus  
Check out a business or charity. 

Inland Northwest Combined Federal Campaign  
The CFC lists the percentage of an organizations’ administrative and fundraising expenses. 

Internal Revenue Service
The IRS provides a list of organizations which qualify for a charitable deduction. 
View and look under “Search for Charities.”

Value of Volunteering
In 2005, the total value of volunteer time in the U.S. was estimated at $280 billion