BBB offers guidelines for good charitable donation decisions

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DENVER -- Donating to charities online might sound easy, but it’s much more difficult than just clicking a mouse.

The list of organizations to give to is endless, long enough to make you dizzy. Where to start? Do your homework by perusing the Better Business Bureau’s website.

Charities must meet 20 stringent standards to be accredited by the BBB. If a charity spends more than 25 percent of its annual revenue on fundraising, it doesn’t make the list.

“One of our sister BBB’s conducted a study and found 1 in 18 charities actually meets the 20 standards for charity accountability, so it's a tough process, and it's difficult to be an accredited charity with the BBB,” said Nathan Ressler-Aragon, nonprofit development coordinator for the Denver-Boulder BBB.

Ressler-Aragon said people should also visit an organization’s website before making a charitable contribution.

“The more information they disclose, the better you`re going to feel with the donation you make,” he said.

You should also look for an organization’s 990 disclosure, outlining everything from finances and salaries to assets and liabilities.

“Finances aren't everything, but they are a good indication of an organization's health,” he said.

Also be on the lookout for name similarities. When charities seek support for the same cause, their names are often similar. That’s something scammers capitalize on.

“It’s really just a holistic approach when deciding where to give your money,” Ressler-Aragon said.